Beauty and the Geek

Emily has everything she has ever wanted; popularity, a handsome, all-star athlete boyfriend and a top spot on the cheerleading squad. So why does it feel like she has nothing at all?
When her grades slip and she is forced to find a tutor, Emily finds comfort in shy, bookworm Will and discovers that the things you need most in life often come in the most unlikely of packages...
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14. Chapter 14.

“I knew it!” Brett was manic as he bulldozed his way into the room. “I knew I was right!”

He launched himself in Will’s direction. I leaped from the bed, making it between the two riled up teenage boys just in time to feel Brett’s hardened fist connect with my cheekbone. Silence fell upon the room as my eyes tried to stay open; watery, painful tears sliding down my face. I felt Will’s hands on me, trying to pull me up from the ground, but I could barely stay conscious from the pain.

“You hit her!” Will said with no source of emotion, a panic stricken expression crossing his face.
“I...I...didn’t mean it!” Brett forced his way over horrified, shoving Will out of the way.

He seized me from Will’s comforting arms and pulled me into his own, making me feel nauseous even in my semi-unconscious state. I lay there for a while, my cheek still throbbing, as exhaustion spread throughout my whole body. I was tired of hiding. I was tired of everything.

“P-please,” I stuttered, desperately pulling his strong fingers from my arm. “Let me go.”
“I don’t want to,” He said quietly, his rage subsiding.
“Let me go, Brett,” I said, gently, looking him directly in the eye as we both realised exactly what I was talking about. “It’s time to let me go.”

I scurried over to Will and he held me tightly. He had been hanging around the corner of the room near the phone, clearly intending to call the cops. I wanted Brett to avoid that. Sure, he was troubled but maybe it wasn’t totally his fault. I was the cheater. Maybe, it was partly my fault he was here right now, almost foetal on the floor. Maybe I messed people up by accident. Maybe that’s all I was good at, I thought woefully.

“I just can’t believe it,” He breathed deeply, refusing to face either of us. “What does he have that I don’t?”
“It’s…just the way things are sometimes,” I replied, approaching him hesitantly and patting his shoulder. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner – you didn't deserve that.”
“I do deserve it,” He clutched my hand like a small child. “I did some really messed up stuff…”
“It doesn’t mean you can’t change things…you can get better. We can get you help.”
“I don’t want help,” He looked at me darkly, shrugging it off.

Brett stared at us both with contempt; a fire I had never seen only once before blazing deep inside him. His fists curled by his side, his knuckles white and bony, ready for the impending doom they were about to cause. I felt the fear grow inside me; fresh and tingling as it coursed through my veins. Will stepped in front of me nimbly.

“You have a nerve even showing up here,” Will uttered, his honesty finally coming out. “You just hit a woman – what do you know about being a good person?”
“Excuse me?” Brett’s eyes widened, horrified the school ‘geek’ had dared to speak to him. “Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do with MY girlfriend…”
“She isn’t YOUR anything anymore,” Will poked him in the chest. “I think we both know you lost her a long time ago – way before I showed up.”
“That’s not true,” Brett’s eyes narrowed, before sliding to me. “Tell him that’s not true, Em.”

They both stared at me and the moment I had dreaded for so long had finally appeared; I was forced to choose between Brett and Will. I couldn’t believe that Brett was so delusional; yes, I had gone along with him for a long time and I regretted that. I was ashamed of that time in my life that felt so long ago but in reality was only a few months earlier. Lately, he must have known things weren’t good and that he had problems. I feared Brett and felt sorry for him all at the time same time - but it wouldn’t stop me finally telling the truth. I shook my head in Brett’s direction; a symbol of the finality of our relationship.

“Well, shit,” He declared. “It just gets better. So, our whole relationship was fake?”
“No, it was real! In the beginning,” I avoided his eyes. “But lately…I’ve changed.”
“You’re telling me. I guess now that you’re doing some nerd it makes you more intelligent and better than everyone else.”
“I’m not doing anybody!” I flamed, my cheeks blushing tomato red, as Brett smiled at my displeasure.
“Could have fooled me – you seemed really into the idea the last time we were together,” He challenged.

I felt a stab of panic inside me as Will looked on in confusion. I would either have to allow Will to think that I had did inappropriate things with Brett whilst I was romancing him at the same time or I would have to reveal the real truth about that horrible night. Either way, Will was not going to be happy. However, the latter option filled me anxiety, knowing that Will would literally kill Brett for what he had did.

 

Brett smirked, a sickly sweet expression across his face, knowing that he had me exactly where he wanted me. I couldn’t believe that somebody could be born this messed up. I had changed my mind; I had no part in the creation of the monster that was Brett – he had it all down by himself.

“I-I-“ I stuttered again, lost for words as I caught Will’s eyes hitting the floor with a sinking realisation. I couldn’t handle the knowing disappointment etched into his face...

NO, I declared to myself. Enough was enough. It was time for Brett to stop ruining my life; he had already taken so much from me and I refused to let him taking anything else. It was time to start standing up for myself.

“How could I ever be into the idea?” I whispered, the familiar tears springing to my eyes, reliving the moment all over again. “You forced yourself on me.”

Brett’s smile faded as he surveyed me with a sense of admiration. I always took the easy option and naively went along with what others told me to; not surprisingly, Brett had expected me to do the same. He was smart enough; he knew that I always fiercely protected the ones I loved. He knew that I wouldn’t jeopardise Will being hurt in any other circumstance. But that was the old Emily Masson. The new me was strong enough to risk things and strong enough to love someone like Will who wasn’t a carbon copy of everybody else. I just had to learn how to bring her out.

Soundlessly, Will crossed the room in an instant and delivered a punch so hard to Brett that he fell to his knees, winded. Time seemed to speed up from that moment and Will was like a man possessed in his attack, as he kicked Brett harder than I thought was humanly possible. At one point, I thought I heard the crunch of splintering bones.

“Go on, smart-ass,” Brett smiled, his teeth stained with blood. “Who’s going to believe you two are the victims at the police station now?”

Will searched for air desperately, realising that he had made a monumental error of judgement. He was flawless, as usual, not a cut or bruise in sight, as Brett laughed crazily to himself, blood dripping down his nose like the tears in my eyes. Who would the cops believe? He had walked into a trap that Brett hadn’t even planned.

The night of the assault flickered through my mind; how Brett had been so relentless in his movements and how he had handled me like an animal rather than a human being. He wouldn’t have stopped if his Mom hadn’t intervened and we both knew it. I was going to hurt him horribly, like he had hurt me, and I was never going to stop – just like he hadn’t stopped when he knew better. I could still feel his hand grappling my windpipe and the feeling that the last thing I would see would be his face leering down on me.

Without thinking, I pounced on him, grabbing his hair, as he groaned in agony beneath me. Will tried to hold me back but I was too far gone; I scratched at every inch of Brett’s face as his cries echoed throughout the room. Suddenly, the roles reversed and he was on top of me; his strong hands were on my head, raising it up and letting it drop repeatedly. I felt a sharp crack as my skull hit the floor hard, and suddenly, everything turned a misty shade of black.

---

My eyes opened uneasily, day old tears and old mascara welding them shut. The room was quiet; the only sounds were the curtain moving swiftly in the breeze and a strange groaning in the distance. It took a few moments to realise that the groaning was closer than I thought and coming from the bathroom.

I tried to sit up too quickly and the room spun around me; it felt like I was in some sort of sick amusement park ride that I hadn’t chosen to go on but had been forced to endure anyway. Reaching around, I felt the unmistakable lump on the back of my head and my brain throbbed inside my skull uncomfortably. Images of the scene came back to me in a haze. 

I longed for the fresh tears to emerge from my sore eyes again but they wouldn’t come. I was too exhausted and too worried to feel anything. Thankfully, I had finally broken up with Brett. It had been messier than I first expected but surely, it had to be worth it now that Will and I could be together without guilt being involved. I just hoped that I could find him again…and that he was still alive.

I tip-toed towards the bathroom, stalling my breathing incase it was Brett in there ready for a second round. My movements were difficult as my head pulsated, alerting me to be careful and stop doing too much too soon. I opened the door slowly feeling relief and horror all at the same time; Will was draped over the counter uneasily surveying himself in the mirror.

“Will,” I touched his arm gently, and he winced.

Turning to face me, I let out a guttural gasp; bruises dotted his face and body, leaving unwelcome trails where the glowing boy I once knew had been. Cuts decorated his body like unwanted souvenirs; some still flowing fresh blood and glimmering under the dim bathroom lights. He had managed to cover the worst ones with bandages he had salvaged from the hotel first aid kit, which I noticed him eagerly clutching in his hand.

He tried to smile at me bravely but cringed in the process, his bloody lip causing him discomfort. Will was still handsome, even in his ruined state; his damaged body shimmered under the bathroom lights as his hair, matted with blood and the stress of his ordeal, remained ruffled.

“You should see the other guy,” He attempted to joke but it fell on deaf ears as I sobbed in front of him.
“That’s not funny,” I cried. He reached out in an attempt to wipe away my tears. “I’m so sorry. We should get you to a hospital!”
“I’m fine, really! He’s gone for good now. You don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
“What happened?”
“You don’t need to know,” He shook his head and I had a feeling he would never tell me. “I already feel better now you’re here. How’s the head?”
“Fine, I just feel a little woozy,” I said quietly, disbelieving we were having a normal conversation when he looked like that. “Are you really asking me about my head right now? You're bleeding...”
“It’s nothing major,” Will said, frustrated. “I can take care of it. Anyway, enough about me, we need to get you to a hospital –“

I silenced him by reaching out, stealing the bandages and band aids from him and applying them carefully to various wounds. He glanced in a different direction the whole time, a nervous lump in his throat, clearly feeling embarrassed that I was mothering him. Will liked to do things by himself if that was the one thing I had learned most about him.

 

Becoming momentarily distracted, my hand rested on his toned stomach and he looked at me curiously. I could taste dried blood on his lips, but I didn’t care. Even as he whimpered from pain and pressed me against his own body, I found myself kissing back. His hands travelled up the edge of my t-shirt by accident and remained there; cold hands thieving the warmth of my skin for his own. He looked at me, a steely glance upon his perfect face, asking me a question without saying anything at all. I nodded, never more sure of anything in my life, as I linked his hand with my own. His fingers traced up and down my own as I led him to the room next door with the ease and anticipation of a teenager in love, knowing that this was the moment I had been avoiding my whole life but waiting for all at the same time.

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