She turned away from the sink at last, her gray face dripping with icy water. She raised her thin, weak hands to her face and scrubbed it with a coarse green towel. She took a deep breath and looked into the mirror above the sink. Her eyes were blood-shot, and the flesh around them was bruised and cracked. Her pale lips were swollen and bloody. Her face carved with many tiny slashes. Her dirty tan hair was jerked back into a ponytail, pulled into a loose bun. She winced at her reflection and turned away.
"Baby, why don't you come back to bed, now?" He called to her from the bedroom.
She closed her eyes and drew in a shaky breath. Oh, how she loved his voice. So sweet and pure, like the freshest batch of honey. She could almost taste him now. His lips, his neck. She smiled fleetingly as she envisioned her lying next to him, her head on his bare chest, breathing in his warm, irony smell.
She flinched and snapped open her eyes. His voice had lost its sweetness. She turned off the bathroom light and tiptoed gracefully into the bedroom.
"Yes?" She tested her sexy pose, leaning against the dresser, rubbing it with her thigh.
Caleb laid under the covers, sitting up against the headboard. He was shirtless. He stared at her with squinted eyes and swallowed despite his anger.
"Come on over here," He patted the bed beside him.
She went to him and crawled up onto the bed, her gray silk nightgown billowing around her legs. She paused until his hand found her back and rubbed it gently. He was in a good mood, tonight. She crept over to him and laid her head against his chest. She sighed happily as she felt his warmth and his heartbeat drumming through her body.
"What took you so long?" He asked after a minute. His hand continued to move softly, up and down her spine.
"I was just washing my face." She answered.
"Hm." He grunted. He stared at the TV which was screwed into the wall above the dresser. The TV was off. He was watching them both in the dark reflection.
"Caleb?" She hesitated.
"Hm?" He responded, tilting his head to look down at her.
"Do..." She broke off, feeling nervous.
"Nevermind, it's nothi-"
"No, tell me! What?" He snapped.
"I..." She forced herself to swallow. The wad of air filled her stomach, making her feel queasy. "Do- do you love me?"
He laughed suddenly. "Love you! We haven't even been together, what, four months?" He snorted, obviously amused.
She sat up and looked into his eyes, looking for something that wasn't there. Her eyes filled with tears and she looked away.
"Agh, don't cry, baby," Caleb said irritably. "It's annoying. You're not gonna get what you want by just crying for it. Jesus, grow up." He shoved her away from him, as if disgusted by her.
She gasped and grabbed the blankets, thinking that she was going to fall off the bed. She didn't. Caleb chuckled at her frailty. She pushed herself off the bed and stood up. He watched her with demonic joy in his eyes.
"I'm leaving." She announced.
"You heard me."
"You can't just leave. It's..." Caleb leaned over and looked at the digital clock on the nightstand. "It's 3:30!"
She shrugged. "So?"
"You can't leave."
She tried to avoid his eyes. "Just watch me," She hurriedly grabbed a random bag out of the closet and began shoving it with clothes from the dresser.
"Hey!" Caleb said sharply. "Stop it! That's my drawer!"
He started to get up, but it was too late. She turned to him with disgusted, holding up a stack of magazines and videos. "Really, Caleb?" She said bitterly.
Caleb's eyes flickered from her to his stash of porn. He stood up slowly.
"Am I not good enough for you?" She demanded, tears welling up in her eyes.
"Oh, come on! It's just some porn. Get over it. We're not even engaged!" He cried indignantly.
"Good! That will make it so much easier to break up!" She threw the magazines and videos to the floor and slammed the drawer shut, then opened hers. She gathered up an armful of clothes and shoved them into the bag.
"You can't leave me," Caleb said quietly.
She hesitated. "Why shouldn't I?" She turned to him. He just stood there in his black and white polka-dot boxers. He looked like an abandoned puppy, just waiting to be loved.
"Because I do love you," He answered helplessly.
Her heart exploded inside of her. Joy and bliss flooded through her veins. He loves me! Her thoughts screamed happily. The bag of clothes dropped at her feet. She stepped over it and drug herself over to him.
"Oh, Caleb," She whispered.
"I'm sorry," He whispered, kissing her on the top of the head.
"No, no, don't be, don't be," She muttered senselessly, her face nestled into his scruffy chest.
"I love you, I really do, I just... I can't let you do this to me again. You understand?" He asked smoothly.
"Oh yes, never, never again." She began kissing his chest, her love surging out into passion.
"I'm glad you understand." He said with a sigh. "This would have been much harder for me if you hadn't." He grabbed her by the throat and threw her onto the bed. She gasped and looked up at him, half with love, half with confusion. She smiled at him as he climbed up on the bed and straddled her.
"Caleb, oh...Caleb..." She leaned up to kiss him, but he pinned her down by the shoulders. She laid there and gazed up at him expectantly. He gave her a small smile and held her arms down with his knees. She didn't struggle. She was blinded by love and stunned with curiosity. What is he going to do next? She wondered.
Suddenly, he grabbed her around the throat. Her face wrinkled into a frown. "Caleb, you're hurting m-" She gagged as he squeezed. She could no longer speak. His hands tightened and his fingers flexed around her thin, pale neck. Her eyes were wide and bugged out of her skull, pleading with him, her mouth hung open helplessly, in agony but unable to cry out. Caleb closed his eyes and a tear rolled down his cheek and dropped onto her nose. She didn't notice. Her body jerked and her legs flailed out behind him, but she was powerless to stop him. Soon her warm neck stopped pulsing under his hands, and he released it. He sat back and sighed, looking down at her stricken, fearful face. No, she wasn't going to leave him. He leaned down and closed her eyes with the tip of his finger. He kissed her on the lips while they were still warm. He loved her too much to let her go.