Simone has spent most of her life living with the scars on her face from a wolf attack as a child. Her insecurities due to her looks have led her from one bad decision to another, but as Scars begins Simone makes a choice not to be walked over anymore - and the first step is getting rid of the man in her life, one she knows is no good for her.
“This isn’t about you; it’s me.” Kyle didn’t even have the guts to look directly at her. He never did. Not even when his temper was at its full height. “I’ve tried to talk to you about this before, the differences between us I mean, but you wouldn’t listen.”
And he wanted to say it wasn’t about her, but him, and then in the next breath he blamed her for not listening. Typical. He hadn’t changed, no matter how much she had hoped he would, or the years of working with him. Wasted years. “I suppose you’re going to tell me now that we can remain friends, or is that supposed to be my line?”
“Lines, is that what you think I’m doing, throwing you lines?”
“Isn’t that what you always do? Use whatever lines you think will get you out of trouble this time?” Simone smiled despite the tension that built across her shoulders. Confrontations, no matter how used to them she had become, were still uncomfortable to deal with. “Or perhaps you’d prefer me to say that it really is better this way for both of us, or that it was really all my fault for not listening to you. Ah no, I have it. I should have known better than to become involved with a piece of low-life, double-talking, cheating scum like you.”
“What?” Color drained from his face, eyes widening at her words.
“Did you think that I didn’t know just what was going on this time? About Megan, Lisa, and what was the other woman’s name last night, or did you ever even ask her name before you fucked her in our bed?” Better, this was so much better than just standing there taking shit from him again. She’d waited too long to face him down over this.
And by the look on Kyle’s face, this had been the last thing he had expected from her.
“You’ve no idea what you’re talking about. Have you been hitting the bottle, or was it the pills this time?” He finally stammered out the accusations.
“You bastard. I’ve been clean for over five years.” Her fists clenched at her sides, the urge to lash out, to damage that oh-too-perfect face built within her. “No matter what you’ve done to me, I’ve stayed away from those damn things, cut them out of my life, just as I’m cutting you out of my life now. You’re a drug, a dangerous addiction. I’ve known that for months now.”
“You’re dumping me?” Shock registered across his face, outrage following a heartbeat later. “You can’t dump me; I’m leaving you.”
“You can’t leave someone if they’re already packed and ready to walk out.” She gestured toward the waiting bags. Suitcases he had somehow missed when he had begun his diatribe. Did he really believe that he and he alone had the right to end the relationship? Of course he did. “My cab should be here any minute now.”
“Where do you think you’re going to go? You’re nothing without me. You know that.” He didn’t move except for his stunned gaze that flickered from her bags back to her face. “You’ve got no where to go! I forbid you to leave. I won’t permit it.”
“Are you so sure that I have no where to go? And, since when did I become a piece of property for you to order around at your whim? I am far stronger than you ever thought I could be, Kyle.” Good, he didn’t know. All those weeks of planning, making arrangements, getting her papers, her things together, had paid off. Looking back, she doubted he’d even noticed the slow disappearance of her worldly possessions. “I’ve got myself a new job, an apartment, the start of a new life all without you.”
For a moment he didn’t speak, he didn’t even try to, just a long slow look around the room, lingering on spots that had once held her small things as realization sank in. All her pictures were gone. Her diploma. That small carved piece of crystal her brother had sent her from some distant country that she’d been too drunk to remember when she’d been given the gift in the first place. Everything packed away, already spirited from sight into the protection of her suitcases.
“How long have you been planning this?”
“Long enough to know it’s the right thing to do.”
“Right for us?”
“No, for me.” Selfish perhaps, but she was through being his safe warm place to return to when he was done with his latest fling. It had taken her long enough. Too long, her brother would have said had he lived to see her make the mistakes that had brought her to this point. “There is no us. There hasn’t been for a very long time.”
“Selfish bitch. After everything I’ve given you, all the support. I put a roof over your head, gave you food and comfort. I helped you through the darkness every time you slipped.”
“You lying sack of shit. Helped me? You pushed me into the mire every damn chance you got. Any time I spoke out against you, tried to get you to see something, you’d accuse me of drinking, or hitting the pills. You put the bottle into my hands a dozen times in the past month alone. I didn’t take a single mouthful, not even with the bottle in my hand. Did you even notice that at the time? No, of course you didn’t. You’re all too willing to look for the weaknesses and yet you ignore any form of strength I try to show.” Her hands clenched tighter, skin taut across her knuckles, nails biting into her palms. “You tried to kill me, little by little every single damn day I didn’t bow down to your wishes, or look the other way with your petty little games. You haven’t touched me in a loving way in over a year.”
“What the hell are you talking about? We did it only last week.” His gaze narrowed on her face. “Twice in fact.”
“A few grunts and moans as you roll my way and try to fuck me without letting me wake up is not a loving way. Self-centered bastard. It’s all you’ve ever been. I was just too afraid to admit it to myself until recently.”
Darkness claimed his gaze, lines tightening about his eyes. “Scar-faced slut. With how you look you should be grateful any man touches you at all.”
It should have hurt, the words were meant to lash into her soul, tear out her heart, and leave her a sobbing heap on the floor.
“That’s the funny thing about waking up one day and realizing the man you’re with is nothing more than a spoiled child willing to lash out at anyone in order to get what he wants. One day those words simply cease to have any meaning.” Simone smiled, bending down enough to pick up her bags. His words had long since lost any power where she was concerned. A pity it had taken so long before she had been able to see it for herself. “I think I finally came to understand that in order for words to hurt, they have to be spoken by someone who means something to me. And you, my dear, ceased to mean anything to me a long time ago.”
She saw it, the warning flashing across his eyes before the growl left his lips. The danger signs she knew far better than she had ever wanted to. But this time, yes this time she was ready for him. By the time his fist came up toward her face, she’d dropped the bags and stepped out of the way, enough that he stumbled forward. Anger left him clumsy.
“I’m giving you fair warning. You ever lay or try to lay a hand on me again, I’ll call the cops on you. I’ve taken enough from you; it’s not happening again. Not this time, not ever again. Do you understand me?” No raised voices, no threats of violence against him, just the cold hard facts of what his actions would bring. “I have the number programmed into my cell phone, and the doctor has all the necessary medical reports at hand from your previous attacks. And believe me, I will turn them all over. You’d be faced with a long and uncomfortable jail sentence. Perhaps you might find a nice boyfriend to keep you company.”
For one brief moment, she could imagine the look on his face when he found himself in a cell with his new boyfriend.
“You wouldn’t dare.” He snarled, turning to face her, eyes dark as the pits themselves.
“A week ago you would have said the same thing about me packing up and leaving. Take a good look around you before you declare what I would and would not dare to do.” Keep calm. As long as she kept calm, he couldn’t win, couldn’t find a crack in her armor to poke through. No, she’d closed them all. This time he’d be the one standing there as she walked through the door, standing there staring and wondering just what happened in order for him to lose his grip on the power.
He’d never understand.
He didn’t want to even try to see things from her viewpoint. She was there. A part of his life, one he had the right to walk away from and expect to find her waiting for his return. A good and loyal little pet.
She smiled, collected the bags from the floor, and walked toward the door without so much as looking back at him. If that’s all he had, then she was safe. Her simple decision had rendered him as helpless as a toddler throwing his first temper tantrum.
Exactly how he had managed to make her feel for far longer than she wanted to remember ...