Secret of the Tenei Star Chapter 9
"So she just suddenly hits me with it, and tells me I deserve someone better. . .but I don't want anyone else! How could. . .how could she do this to me?"
"Oh Gremio," sighed Cleo. "I really don't know what to say. I feel terrible."
"That's all right," Gremio assured her. "I don't know what to say either. Except that I was a fool."
"No, no you weren't," Cleo told him. "You were just someone who believed in love. Emily was the fool, for choosing that-that freak over you."
Gremio only blinked at her.
"And. . .she was right, you know. If she's gonna do that to you, then she doesn't deserve you. And you deserve someone better." Cleo stood up, and gave Gremio a sympathetic look. "I'm going to go ahead and make you some tea." She left the room immediately.
Gremio shuddered and wrapped the blanket around himself even tighter and grunted. He'd been drenched standing in the storm for so long.
Pahn, who had been silent up until now, sat up in the chair in the corner. "Um, Gremio," he started.
Gremio sighed. "Pahn, don't. Not now, please. I just. . .want to forget-"
But Pahn insisted. "Let me speak, please."
"Look, I just wanna say I'm. . .sorry for all the times I ragged on you about her. . .and, uh, for giving you such a hard time when you two started getting serious."
"Yes, I can honestly say that's crossed my mind once or twice in the past month or so."
"Y-yeah, I-" Pahn stood up, then stopped, his voice suddenly dropping. "I guess I was only being hard on you. . .'cause uh, I didn't want to see you making the same mistake I did a couple years ago."
"Huh? What do you. . ."
"Well," sighed Pahn, "about two years ago, this girl and I, well, we sort of rushed into things, kind of like you and Emily did. Man, was that a mistake."
Gremio was curious. "What happened?"
"About three weeks later, she claims she's feeling really ill. . .thinking it's morning sickness. So we go to a doctor and-"
"D-does Cleo know?" stammered Gremio.
"What? No! No, it's got nothing to do with Cleo-" Pahn cleared his throat. "I mean, the girl wasn't, um, you know. . .turns out it was only food poisoning or something."
"But afterward, we somehow get into this huge argument, blaming each other for whatever happened, whatever might've happened. . .stupid, really. There was no reason to fight over nothing at all. Then afterward, we break up, she moves out of the city and I never see her again."
"Oh." Gremio lowered his gaze to the floor. "I'm. . .sorry. . ."
"Eh." Pahn just shrugged. "Happened a long time ago, it's not your fault. Anyway, I just wanted to say you're lucky you got out before anything else happened, you know? No offense or anything."
Gremio forced a smile. "None taken. You were right." He let out another sigh. "Maybe you were right all along."
The week passed slowly. Slower than to anyone's liking.
Outside the window, people were trudging along, making their way to and from work, or maybe from the market. Some were guiding their children home. Others were carrying some items home, a package, a bag, maybe a vase here or there. She wasn't really paying too much attention to it all anyway. Her mind was focused on other things. Other people. Other. . .consequences.
Emily sighed and closed the flap of the curtain. She tried not to cringe as she heard the obstreperous howling that evidently passed for Shark and Suede's laughter. They were laughing about some retarded new joke they had made up about Soros. Or maybe it wasn't a joke. Maybe it was true. Emily never knew when it came to Aaron's friends. . .and sometimes didn't care.
"HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!" chortled Suede. "It's gotta be true, then! Soros' mom worked in the escort service but wasn't gettin' the goods, if you know what I mean, so she had to be a complete loser!"
Shark retorted with an ear-splitting laugh that nearly outweighed Suede's. "Definitely a loser!" he chimed in.
Soros did not look amused as he stared straight ahead, an annoyed expression on his face.
"And his pop. . .oh man!" Shark snickered between breaths. "He was one of the biggest con artists in the world!!! A scam here, a steal there, but he was best known for impersonating the important people! He could fool even the brightest, ha ha ha!!!! Must've been one hell of a poser!"
"S-s-so when they met," Suede added, "they must'a planned they were gonna have two kids 'cause I know that's how Soros and his sister got their names!"
Shark burst out laughing again. "And now we know the mystery of his sister Leper!"
"Yeah," chuckled Suede. "But she don't look like no leper, that's for sure. Lookin' at those mighty fine legs of hers. . ."
"And that mighty fine fist she had for your face every time you tried getting near her?" Shark threw in. "Get it through your head, man! She never liked you 'cause you were always trying to grope her!. . .come to think of it, I don't blame her, heh."
"Would you blame me after I kick your ass for lying?"
"Ooohh!" Shark yelled out in falsetto. "Big ol' Suede is gonna hurt me!" Then in his normal voice, he added, "What are you going to do, anyway? Make me buy you new shoes? Oh, you bad man!"
"All right, that's enough," a weary voice stated. Aaron walked up to his friends, who were sitting at the table. "You're upsettin' my girl. Get out."
Suede cocked his head. "Huh? I didn't hear Emily say a thing."
"Okay, I lied," Aaron admitted. "I got a headache and you're irritating the hell outta me. Come on, time to go. You've overstayed your welcome for today."
The three friends only exchanged glances.
"Are you deaf?" snapped Aaron. "Get the hell out!"
"Heh, heh, okay, okay!" Shark spoke first. He bolted from his seat and was out the door in a startled haste at their leader's yelling for them to depart.
Suede stood up next. "Geez, man, calm down," he told Aaron, raising an eyebrow. "If you want us out, we'll get out."
"Then what the hell are you still doing here?!" Aaron impatiently asked.
"Okay, chill!" Suede left quickly.
Soros moved to a standing position, and eyed Aaron up and down warily. He, too, began to exit the room.
"Yeah, I know you want to check me out but I'm already taken," Aaron quipped cruelly as Soros passed by.
"The man needs a serious enema!" Aaron heard Shark declare as the door closed.
The man rolled his eyes at Shark's insult. "At least I'm not the one who needs to get laid," he grumbled under his breath. Giving a small chuckle to his joke, he walked over to Emily. "Hey." He walked up behind her and then moved his arms around her. There was a hint of alcohol on his breath, and she did not bother to return the somewhat warm embrace.
Aaron quickly brought his arms back. "What's wrong with you?"
She only sighed in response, not bothering to face him.
"Ugh." He let out an exaggerated groan. "Lemme guess. You're. . .still feeling guilty over, uh, old what's-his-face."
Emily's eyes narrowed. "His name is Gremio."
"Heh. Oh, right. Gremio." A pause. "He's better off with someone as big a loser as he is. They can converse, ya know?"
"Stop saying that about him already!" Emily snapped. "He hasn't done a damn thing to you, so why do you keep on being a complete jerk about him?"
"Hey, what did you say to me?" Aaron asked threateningly. He walked around in front of her, pointing a finger at her sternly as if to shake it at her. "Don't you talk to me that way, little girl."
"Aaron, I only meant-"
"Hey, when you're with me, that moron doesn't matter, all right?!" he commanded her, his voice rising. "Don't you know what that does to me? It makes me angry. In fact, just knowing that you're still hung up on that idiot pretty boy really pisses me off."
Emily couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Don't you dare say that about Gremio!" she protested.
No sooner than she had closed her mouth did Aaron let out a snarl of rage and cast his hand back as if ready to strike her. Emily let out a stunned gasp, for she was not expecting this from Aaron.
Breathing carefully, she backed away, extremely shocked at what just happened. She knew Aaron had a short fuse, and he had blown up at times, but he had never before threatened her physically.
The gesture seemed to affect Aaron as well, for he looked upon his own hand in horror, then brought it down. "Oh, Emily," he said, his tone softening. "Oh, baby, I didn't mean to. . ."
"Aaron, you. . .you-"
"I-I. . .sorry, I. . .I only did that because you made me mad." He walked over to her and put his arms around her. "I only did that because you wouldn't stop talking about Gremio. When you talk about Gremio, it makes me feel like I don't matter, and-and I don't want to feel like I don't matter, 'c-cause you know how much I love you, right?" He lifted her chin with his hand, staring into her eyes.
Emily was a bit frightened, but was unsure of what to do. Unfortunately, she had already decided not too long ago that Aaron was all she was worth, that she was undeserving of a better love, undeserving of a future with Gremio. So she tried her hardest to believe that Aaron was the right one for her, that he was the best she could do. She desperately wanted his approval. She wanted to feel loved, she wanted to feel wanted. . .by him. She had fooled herself into believing Aaron was the only one who could give her that kind of attention, though most of it was due to Aaron's gradual control over her. A bright, loving, beautiful girl, throwing her life away. . .
"Ah, come on, baby," Aaron beckoned soothingly. "Forgive me, okay? I won't do it again. No more talk of Gremio, all right?"
She gazed into his eyes, trying her hardest to believe that there was truth in what he was telling her. She wanted so badly to find the good in him, telling herself that there had to be something positive about him, because he treated her like a goddess sometimes, so yes, he was a good person. Otherwise, he'd never have laid his eyes on her.
Emily nodded, her breathing turning normal. "O-okay," she agreed.
Emily rubbed her arm as she patiently waited in a near-empty room. A few months had passed, so a lot of certain drama was over and done with. Even so, Emily felt that something wasn't right. Something that made her feel that her future wasn't fixed down this one path with Aaron, that she might still be able to do something about it. But hell, she couldn't say for sure. She didn't even know why she stayed so long with him. But she was finally starting to believe that Aaron wasn't the one for her. The one for her would never treat her so horribly.
An aching sensation came over her again, and Emily nearly cried out at the pain. But for fear of anyone questioning her humiliating situation, she only bit her lip as she rubbed her arm again. Actually, it didn't hurt all that badly. She could take Aaron's blows, because they didn't happen too often. Yet they seemed to be the most violent when he'd been drinking, though Emily tried her hardest to keep him away from any kind of alcohol. But no matter what, he'd always find a way to booze. Then when he came home, Emily would try not to do anything to upset him, because when he was drunk and angry, it hurt ten times as bad. But she could take it. She'd been taking it for months. What she couldn't take was the angry, hateful look he'd give her. He wasn't supposed to do that. He was supposed to love her, not hate her. But he kept on hating her, hurting her, as she kept the bruises, both emotional and physical, concealed to the best of her efforts.
Her eyes narrowed. What the hell was she ever thinking? He'd used her as a human punching bag, and at times, taking that sense literally when he was intoxicated. Tipsy as ever, he'd try to make her his own practice opponent. It would almost be funny when he'd send a fist her way but instead fall flat on his face, except for the fact that he would immediately get up and try again. Thankfully, more times than not, he failed. But when he succeeded, it hurt in more ways than one. She'd push him away and tell him to stop, but he'd just laugh at her. He was a bastard for doing that. He was a bastard for touching her that way. He was a bastard for everything. And she was plainly a moron for staying. God, man, whatever was she thinking? The bruises. . .
And oh, could she ever hide them. Very well. When he was angry, he only hit her hard on her body. If he slapped her on the face, it never left a mark. But she could hide her arms. She couldn't count the times she "complained" about it being too cold and wore long-sleeved shirts, noting the bewildered looks on the faces of all the people she saw as many times as she could, which wasn't often; only when Aaron had fallen on his drunk ass and passed out. This was one of those times, when she tried to steer someone's attention away from her arms. In fact, she could've congratulated herself on a performance that would make any actress green with envy, when she told the doctor how the darkness. . .soothed her, how she couldn't relax unless the lights were dimmed to a near blackness.
Real smooth, Em, she sarcastically congratulated herself. I don't know why you even put up with it all. And I don't know why you stay with Aaron. You know that Mom told you that a real man never treats a woman like that. A real man. . .
Emily let out a sigh as she thought about Gremio.
Gremio, why did I ever do this to you? she wondered silently. You always treated me like a princess, so what made me ever run to somebody whose idea of love is not hurting someone only when she does what he asked her to do? Gremio, I don't want to go back to that hateful jerk anymore. And I can't give myself to him fully, because I now know that I don't love him. I was only in love with the mystery of him, and whichever way I look at it, I've never been in love with him as a person. You're the one I love, Gremio. I've always been in love with you. . .and I miss you so much. . .but now there's something that will either renew or shatter our chances of ever finding each other again. . .
A woman was eyeing Emily strangely from across the room. Emily glanced over for just a second, forced a smile, and then lowered her eyes to the ground, her cheeks growing warm. She knew exactly why the woman was staring at her. It wasn't too often a girl as young as Emily was seen in one of these places.
"Emily Verlyn?" a man wearing a long white coat called out from the door.
Emily slowly stood up, wrapping the overcoat around herself, and fixed the strap of her tiny purse. "Yes?" she answered eagerly. "Do you know now, doctor? How long has it been?"
The man walked up to her, and glanced down at his clipboard. "Uh, five months," he responded, looking back at her. "And things are looking good. Just try to gain some weight, all right?"
"Oh. . ." Emily's mouth fell open. It was true then. . .?
"Five months?" she repeated, her eyes lighting up. A smile formed on her lips as tears of happiness formed in the corners of her eyes. "You're sure? Five months?"
"Yes, Emily," the doctor said, returning her smile.
"Oh, this is great," she gushed. She reached forward and wrapped her arms around the man in gratitude. "Oh, thank you so much."
The doctor chuckled. "You're quite welcome, miss."
Emily smiled at him once more, then turned around to exit the building with more than just a joyous feeling inside of her.
Finally, she would be free of Aaron.
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