Jason finished bandaging the series of cuts on his arm and nuzzled my neck. "I'm sorry, Beth... I didn't... Didn't mean to hurt you. Not like this."
I frowned, picking up stray pieces of the vase that had crashed all over the floor and placing them away from the circle we sat in. We were surrounded by the bits and pieces of our rash and imperfect tempers; the worn carpet was sprinkled with glimmering jewels of glass, photo frames had fallen off their posts on the walls, and Jason and I nursed fresh scrapes and bruises.
"What do you mean 'not like this?'" I echoed. "We aren't supposed to do anything like this to each other anymore. We promised each other."
I wiped at my few tears quickly, smudging any of this morning's careful application of eyeliner and mascara.
"Then stop seeing that fucking guy from your damn office. You know I fucking hate him."
"Luke is a coworker, Jason. For God sakes, when are you going to trust me on this? He and I may have dated but we're just friends now. You know that! You're my boyfriend. You're the one I love, not him..."
"Oh, okay. You love me, but you can't seem to marry me?" he shouted suddenly, banging his fist into the wall. "I've been waiting for you for over a year! Do you know how insane my parents and friends think I am for not leaving you?"
"Like you could even find someone else!" I spat back. "What kind of woman would take a guy like you? A guy who hits and shouts whenever he feels the slightest bit threatened by anything! Who the fuck would take your shit except me?"
"Don't give me this holier-than-thou act," he snarled. "I've had my share of visits to the hospital because of you, all right? You think the people at the office didn't wonder why my entire left eye was bruised last month? Don't you think they wonder why I have Band-Aids on my arms, face, or hands at any given time? Remember when I had to get thirty stitches on my forehead and still, I was the one the doctor and nurse were suspicious of in the E.R.? You might think I'm the abusive maniac, but you're no prize fucking pig yourself. You don't deserve anyone better than me."
I narrowed my eyes and opened my mouth to speak before closing it again. I knew he was probably right; not that he was faultless, but he wasn't the only one to blame. We were very much the same people: spiteful and suspicious of the other but only because we were in love, only because our feelings had warped into an overwhelming and suffocating possessiveness and jealousy.
"Well, maybe that little incident wouldn't have happened if I hadn't found you fucking the maid!"
"We'd been broken up for three weeks! You didn't return any of my damn calls and you had your freaking locks changed!"
"YOU WERE FUCKING THE MAID!"
"LIKE YOU EVEN CARED!" Jason shouted. "You were just pissed I wasn't a sobbing, pathetic mess like you were!"
Before I could slap him, he gripped both of my wrists tightly, recognizing every nuance of my tense body language.
"I hate you," I seethed, writhing against him.
My hands were balled in tight fists and my arms were rigid with a tension only worsened by his strong grip.
"You love me," he replied with lesser but still audible and visible agitation. "Because if you didn't, you wouldn't want to get back together after every single breakup, you wouldn't bat a lash when I talk to other women, and you sure as hell wouldn't smash a wine glass over my head because I decided to screw some maid."
As furious as I was, his words dissipated my violent rage into little more than a slow-burning anger. My arms quickly tired in his grasp, and he in turn, gently allowed them to limply fall by my side. I let out a strangled sigh and folded into him in exhaustion.
"Marry me, Beth."
I looked up tiredly and pushed Jason's hair away from his forehead, looking alternately from his face to a minor smudge on wall behind him. I flinched when his fingers brushed my bruised cheek, but I enjoyed the dull warmth against my cold skin.
"Then what? What would we be like then?" I asked.
"We'd still be the same people."
"So what's the point if nothing would change?"
"Things will. I want them to change," he continued as his fingers wove deftly through my hair. "I just don't want to have to worry about losing you all the time."
"Jason... I don't think you've ever really cared about losing me. You've only cared when you felt like I found something better."
"There's no love without jealousy, baby."
I couldn't deny it. After-all, we certainly had the scars to prove it.