With her back pressed against the front door of her flat, Charlotte heaved a sigh of relief. She tried to catch her breath, but the pain around her eye was just getting worse. She let out a quiet whine, pushed off the door, and tottered carefully to the guest bathroom to inspect her face.
There were a few small cuts on her jaw and her forehead on the right side, but the big, purplish bruise around her left eye was the real damage. It was swollen, and she could feel the blood pulsing near it. Trying not to cry because it hurt too much, she covered it with powder and made her way back to the living room.
She began to clear a broken vase, but was shortly interrupted by Liam followed closely by Harry, Niall, and Emily. As they tumbled into the room, she quickly turned her back to the doorway. “C? Where’s Jackson?” As Emily spoke, she approached Charlotte slowly, circling around to face her. “Is everything okay?”
“Jesus Christ,” Harry muttered inaudibly, brushing back his hair with one hand.
Niall shook his head and growled. “Where is he?”
Charlotte looked up at Niall, still holding back tears and shook her head to say she didn’t know. Liam dropped down in front of her, crouching so that he could catch her eyes. “Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere else?” She looked away, confirming her answer was yes.
Eleanor and Louis, who had merely caught a glimpse of Charlotte’s state, hurried off to excuse the staff and clean up the broken glass from the floor. Truthfully, it hurt Eleanor too much to see her best friend so damaged and not be able to do anything about it.
Emily had her hand on her hip, and she radiated a fire while she stood back with Harry. The comforting side of things was never really her forte.
Zayn sat next to Charlotte and held her hand. She took a breath before releasing a sob. Liam wrapped his strong arms around her, and with Zayn’s help, escorted her upstairs. Through her sobs, she explained that she had tried to return his ring, but that Jackson wouldn’t hear of it. Emily immediately resolved to return the ring herself and give him a piece of her mind.
While they slowly ascended the staircase, Zayn noticed her arms. There was some yellow-green bruising appearing where he assumed Jackson had grabbed her.
She instructed them to the room on the left. They entered and found the bathroom shortly after.
Charlotte sat on the floor, her sobs calming now. Though his exterior was calm, Zayn had the fiercest look in his eyes as he pulled away from Liam to make eye contact with her. “This will never happen again,” he whispered, just loud enough for only Charlotte to hear.