Totally Tormented
Author:Lucy Covington

My breath caught in my throat, and I would have thought I stopped breathing altogether except for the fact that my heart was beating so fast it felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.

 

I closed my eyes. For a moment, all I could feel was the spray of the water pounding against me. And then, I felt his hands.

 

He gathered my hair, pulling it behind my shoulders so that it was hanging down my back. And then he started to wash my hair. His touch was soft and gentle, which I hadn’t expected.

 

He took his time, massaging my scalp and neck. I stayed still under the spray, just enjoying his touch, the way his hands felt on my skin.

 

When he was done, he leaned in toward my ear. “Turn around,” he whispered, and I did what I was told. I stood under the spray, facing him, until the shampoo washed out of my hair.

 

“See?” he said. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

 

I wasn’t sure if he was talking about the generic shampoo, or the fact that I’d had to trust him. I shook my head. “No,” I said. “It wasn’t so bad.”

 

“Stay here,” he said. “I’ll get you a towel.”

 

And then he stepped out of the shower.

 

***

 

He gave me a towel and one of his t-shirts to wear, and then left the bathroom so I could get dressed. My pink bra and panties were completely soaked, and when I cleared a spot of steam from the mirror, I noticed for the first time that they were almost see-through.

 

Jesus. I might as well have not been wearing anything. I shook my head, reminding myself that from now on I should make sure to wear dark underwear when I was with Justin. I never knew when I was going to end up without my clothes on.

 

I hung my wet stuff over the bar in the shower, then pulled on his t-shirt. It hung down to my knees, but I had nothing on underneath it. And I was supposed to sleep in Justin’s bed with him dressed like this? But what else could I do? My only other choice would be to sleep in my clothes.

 

I towel-dried my hair and then walked back to Justin’s bedroom. He was wearing a pair of gray American Eagle sweatpants and, of course, no shirt. He was sprawled out on his back, flicking through channels on the TV.

 

“Hey, Pip,” he said when he saw me. His eyes did that thing again – the one where they moved up and down my body, checking me out. The sides of his mouth tugged up into a grin when he was done, like he liked what he saw. I blushed and then climbed into bed with him.

 

It was warm in the room, but I was cold from the shower, and I shivered as I snuggled up to him. He smelled like soap and shampoo and his sheets were soft. He put his arm around me and I laid my cheek against his chest, listening to the beat of his heart.

 

He flicked through the channels lazily, passing by sitcom reruns, infomercials, an Adam Sandler movie, and Sports Center.

 

“What do you want to watch?” he asked. He was stroking my hair, and I felt so relaxed that I let my eyes close for a moment.

 

I sat up and propped myself up on his pillow. “Do you think it’s weird that we’ve slept in this bed together and yet we hardly know anything about each other?”

 

“I know a lot about you.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“That you go to school at Cambridge. That you don’t like to do things that are illegal. That you don’t know how to make scrambled eggs.”

 

I reached out and pushed his shoulder. “Hey, hey, hey,” he said, reaching up and blocking me. “Careful, I’m wounded.”

 

“Sorry. Did I hurt you?”

 

“’Course not.” He said it like the idea was ridiculous.

 

“Anyway, so do you?”

 

“Do I what?”

 

“Do you think it’s weird that we’ve slept in this bed together and we don’t know that much about each other!”

 

He sighed, and I could tell he didn’t want to talk about it. So I reached out and shut off the TV. “Hey!” he protested. “We were watching that.”

 

“No, we weren’t.”

 

“We were about to be.”

 

“No, you were about to be.”

 

He grinned and rolled over so that he was facing me. The bruise under his eye was turning from yellow to purple. There was an angry red ring around the outside of it, and I knew it had to be painful. A lump bloomed in my throat – I didn’t like thinking about someone hurting him.

 

“Are you sure it doesn’t hurt?” I asked, biting my lip.

 

“I told you, I’ve had worse.”

 

“When?”

 

“You really want to talk about that?”

 

“I guess not.” I let my eyes move down his body, taking in all the bruises.

 

“Hey,” he said, cupping my chin and tilting it back up so I was forced to meet his gaze. “It doesn’t hurt.”

 

I shook my head, not understanding. How could this be his life? How could he be okay with the fact that he’d spent the night fighting? Again, I got a weird feeling about his new gym. And again, I knew better than to say anything about it.

 

“Pip,” he said. “I swear, it doesn’t hurt.”

 

I nodded, but I felt choked up, like maybe I was going to cry or something, which was ridiculous. He wasn’t a victim. He was doing the same thing to other people.

 

Justin must have been able to tell that I was getting upset, because he changed the subject. “So what’s your favorite movie?”

 

“My favorite movie?”