What He Doesn't Know

Audrey was Liam's best friend. His protector. His "sister". His bodygaurd. And he was hers. They did everything together. Until the ninth grade. They drifted apart, found new friends. But, they haven't talked since. Until now. 7 years later. A lot can happen in 7 years. Scars can emerge, tears can be shed, memories can develop. But it's worse for all when the only one you love has no idea what you've been through.

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12. Breathe

"There's more..." Louis prompts.

"Yah, er- " I breathe in deeply. Here goes. "I went out with Ryan once I graduated high school, early graduate, a year before Liam. It was over the summer, before my classes began at Oxford. He was a year older than me, in the grade above me at school. I'd seen him around, but never got to know him. Once I knew him, I thought he was wonderful!"

"Go on..."

"But then, he started going to parties, hooking up with other girls, going to pubs all the time. All of which I could handle, until he began to drink heavily. It escalated to the point where each night he was drunk. Ryan wasn't himself. He would..." I choke a little, and take a sip of tea. I avoid looking at Louis. I take a breath. "He started to be aggressive towards me. All he wanted was dirty favors, and when I refused he'd beat me. I was bruised and hurt but I didn't want help. I wanted to prove I could free myself from him, but I knew I couldn't. I lived with it for almost the entire summer, which felt longer than it was supposed to."

I'm not ready to tell anyone the real secret, so I tweak the story a bit. No one will ever know the real reason I refuse to wear a bikini in the summer, and never wear crop tops. It's still my secret. I look over at Louis and see him open his mouth as if to say something. He closes it. I wait to continue. "All summer he hurt me. But it wasn't until some night in August he actually threatened my life if I didn't obey. He nearly succeeded. He stabbed into my abdomen and nearly hit my stomach. He missed by barely an inch, but thought he succeeded. He left me in his living room to bleed to death, but thankfully his phone was within arms reach. I was able to call 999 and they saved my life. I have a large, ugly scar on my abdomen and I was in the hospital for a week, recovering from everything he ever gave me. The police were able to arrest him, intoxicated in a pub, and he's been in prison since. Nearly 3 years he's been in there, but he'll be out in a month."  At this I start to panic.The realization I only have a month. 30 days until my life's in danger again. I start to sob.

I lift my eyes with much difficulty to look into Louis's. There are tears in his eyes, he lifts my chin and says "It's ok. You've got all of us. We'll protect you." 

"Thanks Lou," he rubs my back comfortingly. We sit silently for a few moments until I notice the time. It's very late. I put my cup in the sink and turn towards the door. Surprisingly, I see the other lads standing in the doorway. "Did you, d-did you hear?" I stutter. Harry nods gravely, Niall and Zayn have the saddest faces I've ever seen, and tears stream down Liam's cheeks. "I didn't know. I would have helped, but I left you! It's my fault!" Liam blames himself. 

"No! I was ignorant. I didn't realize what measures he'd take! It's my fault." I try to console him. 

"It doesn't matter who's fault it was three years ago. What matters is now. We'll all protect you." Niall smirks. 

"Yah, uh- we'll protect you. You won't get hurt... He'll have to go through all of us!" Harry provides. I smile, and somehow through this, I become the center of a One Direction group hug.

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