All about you (love hat.., p.15
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       All About You (Love & Hate series #1), p.15
 

         Part #1 of Love & Hate series by Joanna Mazurkiewicz
Past

  Christian, Oliver and I were on our way back from the cinema. As usual I was texting Dora to see what she was up to and Christian was cracking some stupid joke about football while he was driving. Christian had just turned eighteen and his father bought him a brand new Audi before he went to South America for business.

  Oliver's birthday was coming up in a few months, but as he told me, he wasn't expecting much. He didn't think that his parents would even remember. I had noticed a few times that no one really cared about what he was doing and how he was behaving, because everyone was always focused on Christian. His coach had foreseen a huge career for him. Oliver was just the other brother.

  Minutes later, Christian pulled up in front of his house.

  “You know that you have to drop me home in an hour. My mum knows what time the film ends,” I said as I jumped out of the car.

  “Chill, Indi, we’ve got plenty of time,” he muttered.

  Oliver went in first, but I saw him stop abruptly in the hallway.

  “What is going on, bro?” Christian asked, passing by him. Then all of us heard the glass being smashed.

  As we walked into the Morgans’ spacious kitchen, we all saw Mrs. Morgan on the floor. She was crying, holding a glass, and there was blood everywhere. A ripple of anxiety rushed through me as I stood there, not sure how to react.

  “Mum, what the hell are you doing?” Christian shouted, going pale within seconds. His blue eyes darted as he paced around his mother. I knew that Mrs. Morgan had problems, but this was the first time that I saw her in that kind of state.

  “I…. am …sorry.”

  Oliver ran to the bathroom and came back with some tissues. I took out my phone and looked at Christian. “Should we call an ambulance?”

  “Fuck, I don't know and I don't care. Bro, you can take care of her. I'm getting the hell out of this mad house!” Christian yelled, as his mother tried calling for him to help her. Oliver's blue eyes shot him a desperate look, but I knew Christian; he was petrified. He cursed under his breath and smashed the bottle of whisky that was on the table, before he hurried outside. I was still standing there, my heart beating fast.

  “No, I want Christian,” Mrs. Morgan cried while her other son tried to stop her bleeding wounds. I helped him to get her off the floor. She stank of whiskey. She was completely hammered.

  “Mum, calm down. You're going to be all right,” Oliver kept saying, but she was moaning and trying to push me and him off. Her eyes were blackened with smudges of mascara.

  “You're horrible and I hate you.” She slurred out her words. “I should have had an abortion. I should have listened to your father!”

  My heart broke, and I looked at Oliver, who seemed completely paralysed by her words, while holding her still. A shadow of anger and despair passed through his face.

  “Don't listen to her. She’s drunk,” I whispered when Mrs. Morgan closed her eyes for a second. He didn't respond. He was breathing hard like he was trying to calm down. Then Mrs. Morgan moved and started vomiting on the floor. Oliver grabbed her hair and I rushed to the kitchen.

  It took us a while to clean her up and get her to bed. She kept throwing insults at Oliver and he was taking all this like he didn't care. I didn't know what to do, how to react. I couldn't comprehend what he had to go through, seeing his mother in this state. Christian left. He was a coward. He couldn't deal with what was going on. I knew that his father kept travelling because he didn't want to deal with Mrs. Morgan. He couldn't face what was happening to her. She needed help, but no one was willing to do anything. Oliver told me that he tried to talk to Christian and his father, but they called him weak. They told him that his mother only drank too much. Only later the doctors diagnosed her as bi-polar.

  Finally around ten o’clock Mrs. Morgan fell asleep. I patched her wounds and helped Oliver clean the mess in the living room.

  We were working in silence and I was fighting back my tears. As we finished, I threw myself into his arms and hugged him, trying to comfort him in any way. Oliver never showed any emotions, he’d hidden them well like he was an assassin.

  That night he wrapped himself in my body and breathed in.

  “I'm sorry that you had to see this,” he whispered. I pulled back and grabbed his hand.

  “You have nothing to be sorry about, Oliver. Your mother needs help, and Christian shouldn't bail on you like that.”

  He looked away and exhaled. “I know that she does, but for now, I just have to deal with it.”

  “She didn't mean any of those things, Oliver. She was drunk. I know that she loves you,” I added.

  He started laughing and brushed the hair away from my face. “They both think that I shouldn't have been born, so spare me the pity, India. You know yourself that Christian is the golden boy. I'm just the trash.”

  “You're not the trash, Oliver. I'll talk to my mum, she must—”

  “India, stop. This isn't going to work. I just have to deal with this. Let me take you home. You’ve done enough.”

  We didn't talk while we waited for my taxi. I never knew anyone who could be so strong and stoic about how much his family hated him. I felt how difficult his life was then and I regretted that I had chosen Christian. I was such a fool not seeing that Oliver was the better person, and the man that was so much better for me.

  Present

  “Someone punched him. That’s why he’s been ignoring me,” Dora states when I walk through the door a few weeks later. I had a stressful day, trying to hand in all my assignments before the deadline and avoiding that new guy Russell who’s been a nuisance ever since we’d been introduced. He keeps showing up in the library, outside my classes, pretending it's just a coincidence. I keep watching Oliver, hoping to figure out his next move, but he doesn't even look at me anymore. I haven't got time to play this game. The term is going to end faster than I anticipated.

  It's Friday night and Dora is already drinking her first glass of wine, so I know that trouble is coming. She is a lightweight just like me.

  “Who punched him?” I ask.

  “That’s the thing. I have no idea. He doesn't even want to talk about it,” she complains, switching the channels on the TV.

  “He doesn't want to tell you?”

  “No. I tried everything, but he keeps saying to leave him alone. He won't even let me take care of him.”

  We spend the rest of the evening discussing Jacob and his black eye while eating junk food. Dora gets drunk, and in any other circumstance she would probably call him up, arguing until he tells her what she wants to know. Then we would go out and she would start flirting with a first guy that she meets. But Dora is in a serious relationship this time, and she won't go back to her old habits. It looks like she might be in love with Jacob.

  Around midnight, I help her to get to bed and clean the apartment. Dora will be fine. She is much stronger than she looks.

  Next day I wake up early, make some coffee, and head to the Sports Hall for rowing training. I'm the first in the changing room. In a couple of weeks I will be back in Gargle, but today I'm planning to have a good session and beat my personal best. Two years ago I would have been afraid to leave the house, knowing that Oliver is plotting another way to make me miserable, but now I'm stronger and training is part of my routine.

  I get to the changing room and get to the bathroom first. I hear the door, so it looks like I'm not the first in today.

  “I hope the coach keeps it short today. I'm not in the mood for training,” whines the first voice. I recognise Mackenzie. I rinse my face and quickly begin to put my clothes back. My aim is to get out of the changing room as soon as I can. The last thing I want is to listen to her whining.

  “Have you got any plans with your hot boyfriend?” another girl asks. It's probably Joanna.

  “Maybe. You never know. He isn't my boyfriend yet, but I'm working on it.”

  I hate when she talks about Oliver like he is a commo
dity that people fight over. That unexpected feeling of jealousy fills me. I put the rest of my clothes back and touch the door handle, when I hear Joanna’s next question.

  “Girls were talking about Jacob yesterday. Apparently someone punched him, but no one knows who?”

  “Oliver hit him. I heard them the other day when they were arguing.”

  The muscles in my stomach clench and I don't dare to move, wondering if I heard Mackenzie correctly.

  “You're joking, right? I mean, why would Oliver hit Jacob? They are best mates.” Joanna says.

  “I know, right? It's odd because they never argue.”

  It's not long before a few other girls come in and soon the changing room is full. The conversation between Mackenzie and Joanna is over, and I'm glad to be out of there. Mackenzie wouldn't make up stories about Oliver. She is into to him and she wants to have him.

  The training goes well, but I keep wondering why Oliver hit Jacob. Distracting myself from useless thoughts, I do a few miles. I push myself more than usual today, hoping to win the competition in December. After an hour and a half, the gym seems deserted. All the girls are gone and I stay to stretch a bit more. The conversation between Mackenzie and Joanna still bothers me. No wonder Jacob didn't want to say anything to Dora.

  The gym is empty when I leave. I feel great after the torturous exercise, although I know that I won't be able to move tomorrow. I strip off in the changing room, knowing that there is no one around and take long blissful shower. Dora wants me to run a film marathon today. She wants to have a quiet and peaceful weekend for a change.

  When I get back to my locker, I see that all my clothes are gone. The blood drains from my face and I begin to wonder if maybe this is just a dream and I haven't woken up yet. The water drips on the floor and I stare at my empty bag. It's obvious that I’m the victim of another prank and it's clear that Oliver is behind this. I run to the door and discover that they are locked. I punch the door a few times, calling for help.

  “We thought that we’d have some fun today, so you can stay here until Monday. Have a good weekend.” It's Mackenzie. She laughs, walking away.

  “Open up! You can't leave me here until Monday,” I roar, but I know that there is no one around. The university gym is going to be locked in an hour and no one cleans up here on the weekends. I punch the door, sliding through to the puddle of water at my feet. The tears fill my eyes as I throw the towel away. I'm naked, locked up in the changing room with no way of escape. There is nothing I can do. I have no doubt it's Oliver's idea. I can bet he made Mackenzie do it. She probably called him and let him know that I was alone at the gym, and they both came up with the tremendous idea of leaving me here to sulk until Monday. I didn't even have my phone with me, because I was supposed to be back in the afternoon.

  I punch the door a few more times, crying like a pathetic creature. I truly despise Oliver now. He’s gone too far and he might have finally cracked me, because Braxton is the last place that I want to be right now. I know that as soon as someone lets me out I’ll go home and pack. Oliver wants me out and now he’s crossed the line. I sit on the cold floor thinking about my old self. I was cruel and without feeling, so maybe I deserve this, being locked up alone with no one to rescue me. I should have just told Oliver that Christian beat me up. I should have revealed that his perfect brother wasn’t so perfect. I shuddered, remembering how pleasure filled his gaze when he was hurting me. But that was just the beginning of the nightmare.

  Minutes pass, then hours, and I sit there drowning in my own tears and hatred. Mackenzie is not coming back; no one is. I try to reason with myself that Oliver just did what he had to. He hates me and he will continue to do so, until he wins the bet.

  I don't even have the energy to lift myself up. I'm broken. He wants to show me what he had to go through in high school when I bullied him. Oliver had said he would stand up for me, but he never showed up. When Christian discovered the truth about us, he did things to me that I'll never forget. He damaged me to the point of not knowing what was real and what was an illusion.

  I close my eyes, drifting away. The pain doesn't ease. It strikes all of a sudden, blinding me, as I remember his cruel hands moving over my body. I tried to scream, but he silenced me, clenching his palms over my neck.

  “India, are you there?”

  I hear a voice and lift my head.

  “I'm going to come in, all right?”

  Before I can even detect if this is happening to me for real, the door opens and I see Jacob’s face.

  “Oh Jesus,” he hisses, looking away, trying to be a gentleman while I still don't move. My body is numb and I don't care that he is seeing me naked. It's like I'm made of brick with no emotions, stripped right back to become no one. He takes the towel and covers me. His left eye is puffy and violet; his upper lip is split.

  “Jacob?” I ask, confused “What are you doing here? How did you know that I was here?”

  “It doesn't matter. Come on, I need to take you home.”

  He helps me on my feet, and I wrap the towel tightly around my body, feeling dizzy. Maybe the nightmare is finally over and I can just go home.

  “Mackenzie locked me up. She took all my clothes,” I tell him. I have a splitting headache.

  Jacob smiles, he runs his hands through his hair. “I know. We couldn't let you stay here until Monday,” he says, pushing me forward, but I stop in the doorway.

  “What do you mean by we?” I ask, narrowing my eyes. “Oliver ordered Mackenzie to lock me up here.”

  Jacob looks uncomfortable, switching his body weight to the side and letting out an uncontrollable breath. “India, just leave it like that. Let me get you out of here. I can give you my jacket and I brought trousers. I don't keep girls clothes and Dora—”

  “Shut up, Jacob, and tell me why you are here,” I press, still shaking like jelly. Jacob passes me a jacket, looking hesitant. I already know what he is going to tell me. Oliver couldn't go through with this prank. He changed his mind.

  “Fine, but if he finds out that I told you, he might kill me this time,” Jacob says. “Mackenzie came into the house a few hours early and told Oliver that she took all your clothes when you were in the shower and locked you up the changing room. Oliver didn't order her to do this.”

  “What?” I ask. “You're telling me that she came out with this idea alone and Oliver wasn't involved?”

  Jacob can't be serious. Oliver wants me out of Braxton. He would do anything to make me unhappy and today he succeeded, because I'm ready to leave.

  “When he heard what she’d done, he went a little mental. He kicked her out of the house and then told me to go and let you out.”

  All right, I have to admit that this is unexpected. Maybe Jacob is messing with my head and they are both lying to me. Oliver hates me and now all of the sudden he changed his mind and decided to help me?

  “I don't believe you.”

  “Do you think that I understand this?” he asks, smirking. “He likes playing pranks on you, but even he knows that Mackenzie went too far, so he asks me to sort her mess out.”

  “What about your black eye? He did that, I know, because I overheard Mackenzie talking about it with another girl,” I say quietly. I really need to know everything now. I couldn't be wrong about Oliver, it was obvious that it was his prank, but now I'm confused because he sent Jacob to release me.

  “I don't know what this is about either,” he complains. “It was after lunch on Monday. He came outside and hit me.”

  “Just like that? For no reason?”

  "Yeah, without any reason. I wanted to know, so I kept asking him about it, but he just told me that I should know why, like I'm fucking mind reader.”

  “Oliver showed me mercy today, and I appreciate it, but I just want to get home.” I put on Jacob’s jacket. He looks a little lost but also relieved that I don't dwell on this subject anymore. His car is outside, so that saves me mor
e humiliation and embarrassment.

  He drives me home and I wonder if I should thank Oliver for what he did for me. Two years ago I would have gone to Mackenzie and punched her, but I'm not reckless and cruel anymore. Oliver has grown in my eyes and maybe he is going to forgive me for what I did to him. There are still other questions that need answers, but I have to bring myself to tell him what went on that night just before Christian was killed.

  Jacob drops me home and goes with me upstairs. When I tell Dora what went on in the gym, she looks like she is going to kill Mackenzie. I go to my room and stay there for the rest of the day before I tell her to leave it and let me take care of her.

  Did Oliver try to show me that he still cares about me? That his anger has faded? He refused to listen to me, throwing insults at me like I threw garlic at him during the party two years ago. He could have left me there locked up until Monday, but he chose to help me. I still hate him—but today maybe a bit less than a few hours ago. It's time for me to face him and tell him the whole truth and the only truth.

  Chapter twelve

  Fighting the enemies

 
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