~~Bella loved visiting the library, it was quiet, peaceful and nobody ever bothered her. When Bella was ten years old, her grandmother had taken her out for the day. They shopped for a little until they bumped into some of her grandmother's friends from bingo. Being the ever curious child that she was, she soon grew bored and decided to wander. There was a big teddy bear in this one window that caught Bella's attention, but as she walked towards it she spotted her favourite Disney movie in the window of a bookstore. Alice In Wonderland.
Bella soon found herself being involuntary drawn towards the bookstore by some sort of invisible magnetic force, the smell of old and new books mixed together rushing up her nose. It didn't take her long until she found the book she was looking for and starting reading it. Her grandmother was furious when she had finally found her and Bella wished she never had to leave, but from that day on, Bella's world had changed and books became a big part of her life.
Some would call her boring and a nerd, but she didn't care. Books gave her a place to go when the rest of the world was against her. Books were the only true magic in her life. She had strolled across a magic wardrobe and traveled to Narnia, visited Hogwarts and played Quidditch. Fallen in love with her prince charming and had her heart broken by the very same one. With every book she read she found herself emotionally attached to the characters and the best part of it all was that she experienced this all by the comfort of her own bedroom.
Books symbolized a lot, especially life. One of the worst and great things about books is finding one that you can't put down, ones that you slowly start falling in love with. Ones that make you feel like you know everything about each and every character. When they're in pain, you're in pain. When they cry, you cry. When they die, a part of you dies with them. You come to the end of the story and you feel yourself wishing it never had to end, but it does and you feel yourself missing it. Missing them.
It didn't seem fair to her, that Amy's story had ended so suddenly. She had a beginning and an end, but no middle. Her life was incomplete and it wasn't fair. Bella missed her so much. The amount of times she found herself walking into Amy's old room, mostly because she could still picture her inside, putting on her makeup or watching a movie on her bed. But most times it was out of habit, because she needed someone to talk to or because she wanted to hear her voice again. And every time she did, all she found was silence. Amy wasn't there anymore and it was like a stab to her heart each and every time she remembered that.
The school library didn't have the same feeling like most libraries did, but they did have a couple of descent books and from the emptiness of the place was probably the last place most of the kids in this school ever voluntarily strolled into. Bella knew she was being a coward hiding away like this in the corner of the library floor, but just the thought of seeing Dean sent chills down her spine. The bell for lunch had rung over twenty minutes ago and Bella was starving. Scott and Sam promised her this morning that they would make sure Dean would come nowhere near her, but she lied and told them she had to catch up on some work from when she wasn't here.
Another growl of hunger erupted from Bella's stomach and she silently wished she had at least brought some food with her. Bringing her knees up to her chest she let her head rest on her knees, she hadn't eaten anything since last night which was only some toast as she didn't want to be sick again. Trying not to think about it, Bella closed her eyes and let out a big sigh. Somebody clearing their voice above her made the tiny hairs on Bella's arm stick up and she suddenly felt nauseous again as she slowly raised her head up.
"I come bearing food." Relieved to find Liam standing above her and holding out a sandwich.
"Thank you," she smiled, taking the sandwich from him and moving over so he could sit next to her.
"How did you know I was here?" she asked, taking a bite of her food and almost moaning in gratitude.
"I saw you sneak in earlier. Though you might be hungry, which by the looks of it seems i'm right," he chuckled as she continued to finish her sandwich.
"I should have gone to lunch, but I just couldn't," she muttered, putting her sandwich down beside her.
"It's ok, I get it," he smiled reassuringly. They stayed silent for a moment until Liam spoke again. "Does it hurt?"
Confused for a second, Bella gazed up at Liam and followed his stare that rested on her wrist which exposed the bruise Dean had left behind. Having forgot all about it she quickly stretched her long sleeve to cover it.
"It's not as bad as it looks, it only hurts if I touch it," she reassured him.
"Is that the only one?"
Bella stayed quiet for a moment before answering, "Just one on my back, you know from where he...I bruise really easy, don't worry about it," she said, wishing they could drop the subject already. Liam seemed unconvinced as he watched her, did he really think she was lying?
"Liam, it's ok."
"It's not ok," he said, surprising her a little. "You don't deserve to be treated that way," he said sternly, his hand going through his hair as he sighed. "I don't like seeing you hurt."
"It was my own fault, if I had just listened none of this would have happened."
"It's not your fault Bella, you didn't ask to be attacked," he frowned. "It's what he does, he plays the victim and then before you know it he has you."
Bella stayed quiet as she waited for him to continue. "He's done this before. I know I told you to be careful but, I should have told you everything."
"Why didn't you?" she asked, noticing him tense up a little but quickly recovered with a small smile.
"It's kind of a long story."
"I know," she said, regretting the words almost immediately. Liam still didn't know that she knew about Cammy, if he was going to tell her she wanted it to be his decision. Now she had gone and blown it by opening her big mouth. Liam gazed down at her with an odd expression on his face.
"I meant that, I understand if you don't want to tell me," she stuttered nervously.
He chuckled at her uneasiness, "Scott told you didn't he?"
"What do you mean?" she asked, acting as dumb as possible. This only made him chuckle even more.
"It's ok Bella, I won't be mad." He smiled that amazing half smile.
"It just slipped out, he didn't want to say anything but, I sort of made him."
"It's ok," he laughed.
"Why didn't you want me to know?" His smile slowly fading away.
"Well, it's not exactly something I'm proud of."
"But, you didn't do anything wrong."
"I lost her to another guy, I obviously did something wrong." Bella couldn't believe that he thought it was something he did. Does he not see how great he is?
"You loved her." Making it sound more like a statement then a question.
"No," he replied quickly, shaking his head.
No? He didn't love her?
"Not the answer you expected?"
"I just, I mean you were with her for two years."
"Yeah," he said, running his hand through his hair, his handsomeness catching her breath as he did. "I guess at the time I thought I did, but after we broke up, I realized how fake it was, how easy it was to get over her. That's not love."
"Do you think that, you'll ever be that close with someone again?" she asked innocently.
He watched her, a small smirk appearing on his face, "You offering Bella?"
"No." She answered quickly. "I...I just," Bella blushed when Liam started laughing and she realized that he was just messing with her.
"I don't know," he answered seriously. "Once you've been through something like that, you always have that thought in the back of your mind."
"That it will happen again, that you'll never be good enough," he said, looking away.
Bella wanted to tell him that he was perfect in her eyes, but she couldn't muster up the courage to do so. She understood where he was coming from though, Bella had told herself the same thing when her ex-boyfriend Nick told her she wasn't worth it and immediately hooked up with someone else just minutes after breaking up. She had never felt so worthless in all her life.
"I think I know how you feel." He frowned slightly, obviously curious. Thankfully he stayed silent, just like he always did when she didn't feel like talking about it.
Lunch was soon over and the dreaded bell finally rang, Bella let out a sigh as she felt her heart stop unexpectedly.
Sensing her discomfort, Liam nudged her side lightly and leaned over to whisper in her ear, "Don't worry, he's not here today." She blushed at his face being so near to hers, "He's not?"
"No, so no more hiding ok." He was starting to know her too well she thought to herself.
Bella watched as Liam rose and held his hand open for her to take, "Come on, I'll walk you to class," he smiled at her.
Bella smiled and took hold of his hand which he surprisingly kept hold of until they reached the hallway.
The rest of the day went by pretty quickly, now that she knew Dean wasn't around it definitely eased her mind. Although there were times when she felt like she had to watch her back, afraid that he would appear behind her and grab her. She couldn't go on dealing with this everyday, knowing that any moment he could hurt her again. She was thankful that there was only two more days left of school after today and then the Christmas holidays were here. She just hoped that after the holidays were over things would be a little different.
Sam and Santi had bugged her through the entire English class about the school Winter Dance that was being held this Saturday. If anything, another party was the last thing on her mind right now. She told them both she didn't want to go only to have them bug her even more saying she couldn't miss the end of year party with her friends. She had to admit it did sound like fun, but she knew Dean would probably be there and just for that reason alone she didn't want to go. Also, she would have to find a date, another reason why. Just going by herself seemed depressing enough, what was the point? It was just a dance after all.
Scott told Bella that he had training after school that day and that if she waited he would drive her home, but thankfully Liam was walking by and offered to take her instead which she happily accepted. He made her smile the whole ride home, playing a game he called 'The Radio Game', involving you asking each other questions, but instead of you answering them, you had to base the answers on the song that was playing on the radio.
Liam asked the first question asking what was going to happen to her this weekend? She dreaded it at first, but when it landed on 'Get Your Freak On', by Missy Elliot they both laughed and started taking turns asking more and more. When they asked what was going to happen to Dean the next time Liam saw him, they both laughed out loud when it turned out to be 'Highway To Hell'. She was having so much fun with him that she didn't even realize that he had pulled up in front of her house already.
Bella turned to face him, "One more song?"
Liam laughed and nodded his head, "It's all yours."
She grinned widely and quickly thought about what to ask. "Ok, let's see what you really think about me?"
Liam watched as she leaned over to change the station, finding a song that was playing. She was having no luck at first, but struck gold when she landed on a clear station. She didn't recognize it at first as the music played but noticed Liam suddenly look away from her as he smiled to himself. It was when the chorus started to play that she recognized it as 'Beautiful' by James Blunt. Bella blushed furiously and quickly turned the radio off, leaving them in silence. She couldn't tell if he was embarrassed or amused, she glanced over at him causing him to do the same and he just smiled at her sweetly. She could have sworn she saw him blush a little, but if he did he hid it well.
Bella cleared her throat nervously before bravely asking him, "Do you wanna come in?"
Liam studied her carefully before answering, "Sure."
He followed her inside her house, his hands deep in his pockets making him look cute but shy at the same time. "Your mum still at work?" he asked.
"Yeah, both of my parents are always working, I get the house to myself a lot."
They walked into the living room and both took a seat on the couch, she was about to switch on the TV, but decided to leave it off. Instead she turned to face him. "You know, there's something I've been wanting to ask you."
"Sure, what is it?"
"When you were here the other night, you said a lot of things that made me think."
"I'm sorry Bella, if I was out of line."
"No, you were just trying to help and I wish it did, but I can't just stop remembering her."
"I didn't mean it like that," a pain of regret washing over his face.
"I know that and I never did thank you for taking care of me that night. Some of the things you said though, it was almost like...."
"Like you've been through it too," she said carefully, watching as Liam shifted and was now avoiding her gaze.
"Did you lose someone too?" she asked, a little nervous all of a sudden.
Liam let out a heavy sigh as he leaned forwards so his forearms were resting on his legs. "Yeah, I did," he muttered.
"Who did you lose?"
Why was she pushing this? He obviously didn't want to talk about it. That was the thing about Liam though, he was so mysterious. She realized that she didn't really know anything about him at all, whereas he knew so much about her. His mystique no doubt made him more sexy and appealing but, she wanted to know what was behind all of that, what was he hiding? Would he even tell her? Bella waited while he sat there, she could see he was hesitant about answering, but eventually he raised his head to glance at her for a second.
"My mother," he replied sadly.
Bella felt her heart drop at that. "Liam, I'm so sorry."
She felt horrible. The whole time she had grieved over her sister, she had no idea the pain she was putting on him. "I never would have piled all of my problems onto you like - "
"Bella, it's ok," Liam interrupted her, cocking his head to the side as he looked at her. "She's ok," he stated. She stared at him in confusion, what did he mean by that?
He sighed before continuing, "My mother divorced my father when I was twelve. She told him that he made her miserable, that she couldn't take it anymore and that she had found somebody who really cared about her. So she left, no goodbye's no nothing just, up and gone." He scoffed to himself before running his hands through his hair. "I haven't heard from her since," he went on.
Bella felt a slight pain go through her heart at the image of a young Liam pining for his mother, how could she leave him like that? How could any mother leave like that? She reached out to touch his arm. He looked at her, his attention now focused on her hand. He gently grabbed hold of it, moving her sleeve away and lightly touching her bruised wrist. She wasn't sure what he was doing, but she stayed still as his warm hand held hers.
"I guess part of me dosen't really blame her, my dad would lash out at her all the time," he told her, his gaze never leaving her wrist.
Bella swallowed before asking, "You mean..."
"Yeah, she would always hide her bruises away with her makeup, but I knew they were there." Bella sat there listening, dreading the next thought that came into her head.
"Did he ever...?" She found it impossible to ask him anything right now, afraid that she would make him upset. "Hit me?" he finished her sentence.
Liam turned his head to look at her, she nodded her head yes. He turned his head away once more before answering, "He used to, but not anymore."
She could feel tears welling up in her eyes, but refused to let them fall, he was the one that needed comfort right now, not her. "I promised myself that I would never treat a woman like that, that I would never bruise any part of her body, that I would never be anything like him," he finished.
Bella couldn't stop the tear that ran down her cheek, she never would have guessed that this beautiful boy had to go through such a horrible childhood. "Liam, I'm so sorry you had to go through that," she told him, her voice a little shaky.
He cocked his head up to look at her thoughtfully, his hand still holding onto hers. With his other hand, he wiped her tears away. "I didn't mean to make you cry," he smiled warmly at her.
"I'm sorry, I just can't believe that your dad would do that to you."
"He's an ass," Liam stated. "I'm not afraid of him anymore," he told her, she could see the seriousness in his face and knew he was telling the truth.
Without thinking, she wrapped both of her arms around his neck feeling him stiffen a little at how close they were, but soon relaxed and moved his arms around her back.
"Ow!" she hissed, as Liam accidentally applied pressure onto her bruised back.
"What's wrong, are you ok?" Letting go of her as if he had burned her.
"Yeah i'm fine," she smiled encouragingly. "My back still hurts a little."
"I'm sorry," his eyes softening as she smiled.
When Liam stood from the sofa she thought that he was ready to leave but he held his hand out for her to take. "I wanna show you something."
Confused but intrigued, Bella took hold of his hand and rose from the sofa. "Show me what?"
"How to protect yourself. I want you to tell me everything that happened."
"Liam," she started.
"I know you don't want to, but let me help you feel safer."
Bella didn't know what to say to that, so she simply nodded her head and almost jumped back in surprise when he stepped directly in front of her.
"What's the first thing he did?"
Bella sighed and let her thoughts go back to that night. "When he came into the bathroom I asked him to leave me alone but he wouldn't listen. I tried to leave but he held onto my wrist, the more I tried to struggle the more he was hurting me."
Liam's hand came up to grip her other wrist that was free of bruises and sightly tightened his hold on her.
"I want you to break free."
"What?" A little bewildered, if she couldn't get away from Dean then she didn't stand a chance against Liam.
"Try and get away from me," pulling her wrist towards his chest and trapping her against him.
Bella's heart sped up as she tried to struggle against his hold, she pulled and twisted but it was no use.
"Try harder," he pushed, bringing her closer towards him.
"I can't," she sighed, getting more and more upset with herself. "You know I can't!"
"Then let me show you how." His hold on her wrist loosened just a little causing shivers to course down her body. "There are a couple of techniques you can do if somebody was to grab your wrist. There are certain nerves in the body that once you hit makes your body sort of shut down momentarily."
Bella watched as he stepped away from her with his grip still holding onto her wrist. "If somebody is holding you like this, what you can do is you can take your free hand and use your palm to strike against their wrist to break their hold, but it's gotta be hard," he explained to her. "So now that I have your wrist, I want you try and get away by doing what I just told you."
Bella bit her lip in hesitation, this whole thing was pointless, as if any of this was going to work on him. With a nervous sigh, Bella did as he instructed and with the palm of her hand, she struck down onto his wrist and almost gasped in surprise when Liam let go of her. Had she really done that?
"Not bad," he smirked as he came back to face her, hovering over her. Bella gazed up at Liam and felt another shiver go down her body as he gripped hold of her wrist again.
"Ok, this time your gonna reach over the top of my hand that's holding your wrist and grab hold of one of my fingers," he told her.
Once again Bella did as he said and waited for further instructions.
"Now I want you to twist my arm slightly and in a circular movement you're gonna put my arm in a wrist lock and from there you can kick that person in the stomach or just push them away. Atleast it gives you a chance to get away. Otherwise, this could happen."
Liam suddenly untwisted himself and had that same grip back on her wrist which barely gave her time to react. "You have to act fast," he said seriously, but his eyes softened when he saw the sadness in hers.
"Yeah, I just really hate feeling like this."
"Weak," she admitted.
Liam stepped a little closer and continued to hold onto her wrist, but this time it was soft. "What else did he do?"
"He kept on pinning me up against the wall so I couldn't get away. When he started moving towards one of the cubicles, he turned me around so my back was facing him and dragged me inside," she sighed, feeling nauseous all of a sudden. "I tried Liam, I tried so hard to get away but I couldn't do it."
"It's ok, the important thing is that you did get away."
"I got lucky Liam, it dosen't matter how many things you try to teach me. He will always win."
"Don't think like that."
"It's true, you know it is. If you wanted to hurt me right now, you know I wouldn't be able to stop you."
Liam let go of her wrist and watched her quietly before stepping closer making her step back until her back collided into the wall behind her. Bella wasn't afraid of Liam but she hated to admit that his silence was making her a little nervous.
"You're right, if I wanted to I could. I may be physically stronger then you, but that dosne't mean you should stand back and give up. You should never give up Bella, you should be stronger then that, you are stronger then that."
"I don't feel it," she mumbled quietly.
"It's ok to be scared, I used to be," he swallowed forcibly. "Bella you are smart, beautiful and strong enough to beat this. Believe that you can and that way he will never win."
Bella's breath stopped when she noticed the way he was looking at her, so caring and brave despite everything he's been through.
"You're a really great guy you know," she smiled noticing a slight blush on his face. He started to say something but the sound of Bella's phone ringing stopped him. Reaching into her back pocket she pulled her phone out and saw that the caller id was Sam. With a small sigh she hung up the phone and gazed back up at Liam who was looking at her oddly.
"Who was it?"
"It's just Sam," she explained, putting her phone back in her pocket.
"You guys had a falling out or something?"
"No, she wants me to go to this dance at the school, she's been on my case all day about it."
"You don't want to go?"
"Not really, going means I have to find a date or go by myself. I would just rather not go."
Liam shrugged his shoulders lightly, "It's a shame, I think, you would enjoy it," he said, staring at her with that intense expression of his that made her heart beat little faster then usual.
"I have an idea," he said, moving to stand in front of her.
"What's that?" she asked.
He grinned widely at her and said, "Go with me." Bella felt her stomach fill up with butterflies as he said this, is he asking her out she wondered?
"Go with you?" He nodded his head and smiled. "But, you mean just as friends right?"
Liam sucked on his bottom lip for a minute before smiling at her again, "Right."
She couldn't help feeling a tad bit disappointed, "Liam, you don't have to do that."
"I want to."
"But wouldn't you rather go with someone that you really wanted to go with?" she asked him, knowing full well that every girl would be lining up as we speak.
"I am," he smiled. "I would rather go with you then any of the other girls at our school. What do you say?"
She thought about it for a minute before replying. "Ok, I'll go with you," she smiled.
"Good," he smiled again, his eyes never leaving hers.
There was a long silence as they both stood there just staring at each other, she couldn't deny the urge she felt to wrap her arms around him and just kiss him, or as Sam liked to put it 'jump him'. Sadly, she knew he was completely out of her league and knew he would just reject her if she tried, wouldn't he?
"I should tell Scott," she said, breaking the silence. "You know how he over reacts."
"Good idea. Anyway, I should probably go."
"Ok." Wishing he could stay a little longer.
"Look um, about what I told you, you know about my parents...I haven't exactly told anybody else," he said, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.
"Not even Scott?" she asked. He shook his head, "No."
She wanted to ask why, why did he tell her? But thinking about it, she had told him things that nobody knew, now it was his turn.
"I won't say anything Liam, I promise," she smiled up at him sweetly.
Liam moved forwards and took hold of her hand, pulling her gently against him, instantly surrounded in his smell. She closed her eyes and smiled as his strong arms were wrapped around her, feeling his arms tighten as she snaked her hands around his lower back.
"I'll see you later Bella." He let go of her and smiled once more before leaving. How was she going to tell Scott? She shook it off and chuckled to herself, he wouldn't mind....right?