(This turned out to be a continuation of “Unfeeling Bitch” so if you haven’t read that, you can find it here.)
Grace started to pull out of sleep. Eyes still closed, she noted the dull ache in all of her joints and realized she must have drunk too much the night before. Oh… Yup. Bladder about to burst – definitely drank too much of something. Keeping her eyes still closed, she tried to remember where she was and who the body was next to her. She could feel the heat of his body and his leg resting across her leg.
Oh God, I hope it’s not who I think it is, she thought. Slowly opening just one eye to find out – as if that would lessen the blow. He was lying on his stomach, face buried in the pillow – but she could tell right away that this man did not have the blond hair of her boyfriend Wade.
Shit. He had the brown hair of Tim. Shit. Shit, Motherfucking SHIT.
Grace shot both eyes open and tried to control her breathing so that she wouldn’t yell out and wake him up. She slowly extracted herself from under his limb and sat up on the side of the bed with a groan. He stirred and she stiffened.
“Mornin’,” Tim said tiredly as he stretched. “What time is it?”
Grace cleared her throat, “Oh, uh… Morning. Um… it’s uhhh.. almost 9.”
Tim reached out and rubbed on her back telling her to come lay back down. “It’s too early yet,” he said as he rubbed both eyes, scrunching them closed. Groaning, he pinched his fingers across the bridge of his nose and left his hand to rest there a moment. “God… I have a headache…. Come on,” he patted the bed with his free hand, “get back in bed.”
“Maybe in a minute… I have to pee.”
Grace pulled herself up and stumbled to the bathroom. The sudden rush of getting up caused her stomach to lurch and her head to pound. Fuck was all she could think.
She closed the bathroom door behind her, but didn’t turn on the lights. The faint natural light coming from the little window was enough to see what she was doing. She didn’t need harsher light in her eyes right now and she most certainly did not want to see herself clearly in the mirror. She was too ashamed to look herself in the eye. As if the Grace in the mirror was a different person – the person she had just condemned. The innocent that would surely be getting smacked around at the very least in the near future. It wasn’t mirror Grace’s fault, it was disgusting drunk Grace’s fault. At least now there was a reason to fight. At least now his mood wouldn’t take her by surprise.
Sitting on the toilet, Grace started to cry. Sniffling, she wiped them away as fast as she could. She didn’t want Tim to realize what she had been doing when she ventured back out there again. She finished up, stood to wash her hands and then splash water on her face in an effort to mask the fact that she had let some tears escape. She hoped that if her eyes were red, Tim would just assume was from being hungover.
Taking a deep breath she opened the door and ventured back into Tim’s bedroom. Tim was propped up on one arm looking at her when she came out.
“We fucked up, didn’t we, Grace?”
“Yeah, yeah… We did.”
“Well, I won’t tell if you won’t,” Tim said.
Grace crossed her arms across her chest to hug herself.
“He’ll know anyway,” she said.
She came around to sit on the bed as he responded. “How could Wade possibly know?”
“I dunno… Tim… I mean, he’s always suspected that something has been going on between us..”
“What?” He scoffed. “Where did he get that from?”
“I don’t know… I don’t know… but… Tim… What if someone he knows saw us leave together?! What if they tell him?!”
“Then we’ll deal with it, Grace.”
Grace was trying to control her rising hysteria, but not doing a very good job of it.
“Easy for you to say, Tim! You’re not his girlfriend…” Tears were welling back up now. Frustrated with her display of emotion, she shoved her palms into her eyes to stop the flow of tears and then swatted the remaining tears away.
Tim scooted over to her and wrapped his arms around her. She tried to shrug him off, but that just caused him to squeeze her tighter.
After a few moments, Tim asked “Why are you even with him, Grace?”
She considered all the excuses she usually told herself. “He’s handsome, he’s a hard worker, has good values… He can be really sweet…”
“When he’s not being jealous?”
Grace nodded her head, “Yeah.”
“He hurts you, doesn’t he?”
Not looking at him, she sucked in a breath and held it. Maybe if she ignored the question it would go away.
He nudged her. “Answer me.”
She let the breath out in a long sigh.
“Grace, we’ve known each other since middle school… I’ve been your friend this whole time. Don’t think I won’t be able to tell if you’re lying. I’ve seen you both together. You deserve so much more than him…”
“Look, Tim. It’s fine. So we fight sometimes. So what? All couples do it!” She was starting to feel frustrated – what business was it of his?
Tim pulled her face around to look her in the face, keeping a hold of her chin. “Does. He. Hurt. You?”
Grace’s face screwed up in a mixture of frustration and sadness.
“Only when I make him angry,” she said quietly after a moment. “U-usually he’s perfectly sweet.”
“No he’s not, Grace. I’ve seen you guys out in public. He’s an ass. He’s always been an ass.”
She yanked her face from his grip.
Looking down for a moment, Tim said “Grace… I’m not going to lie… I’ve loved you for a long time. I hate the way he treats you. I hate that you let him treat you that way. Please let me help you.”
Grace considered his words for a few minutes. Maybe he was right. Maybe she was defending Wade for no decent reason. Maybe she was in a toxic relationship. But if she leave him… What would he do? Would they have just one of their ‘normal’ fights – one last time and be done? Would he get to her and hurt her worse than ever before? What would he do to Tim? Grace glanced back at Tim to consider if he could take Wade in a fight.
“Okay,” she said softly.
Tim smiled at her, put is hands up to her face and kissed her. Grace’s tears started running again; this time she did not try to wipe them away.