Chapter Twenty-One: The Truth Comes Out, Sort Of

Dominique

It was like I was telling my f-ing life story. Well, it practically was, but that is not the point. The point was that I was sitting on my stupid couch telling stupid Shawn about the worst possible moments in my stupid life. I might as well be poking my own eyes out with a flaming trident. My life was utter crap.

"So," Shawn said when I stopped talking, "Desiree started to date this kid, Jesse?"

"Wow," I said, rolling my eyes. "You are so observant. I just said, 'he asked her out.' So, yes, she started to date him."

He ignored my meanness. He was used to it by now. "And he was a senior? Dude, I would never date a sophomore as a senior. They're, like, practically kids, still. It's just… creepy." He made a face, as if that was the worst thing in the world.

Welcome to my life. "Yeah, it kind of was, but that's not the point. The point is that they began to date. Are you all caught up, now? Can I continue? Please?" He pouted at me but said nothing. "Alright," I said, "so they became frickin' inseparable. If you saw Jesse then you saw Desiree. It was sickening." I made a disgusted face.

"Wait." Shawn held up a hand. "Were you just bitter that you didn't have a significant other or was it really that bad?"

My mouth became a straight line. "Do I look like I'm jealous of my sister? No, it really was that bad. But the thing was, they could be horrible to each other. It was like an abusive relationship without the abuse. I kind of kept expecting one of them to show up with their face all banged up. Anyways…" I stopped. This was when it started to get weird. Before I knew what I was doing, I stood up. "I'll be right back."

Five minutes later, I had two cups of hot chocolate. I set them on the coffee table and watched the steam float off them. "I think I have a problem. But if there was ever a time for hot chocolate, this is it." Tentatively, I took a sip. "Alright, back to the story…. So, Jesse is an asshole. Seriously. I call you an asshole, but, I mean, he is an asshole. He is one of the worst people on the face of the planet. The more he and Desiree dated, the more you could see it. He would do these little things that were just creepy. Like, one time, I saw him in the cafeteria and he stole this guy's wallet out of his back pocket and flipped through it. He put it back, but like that matters. He's a little creep."

"You're making me very wary," Shawn said, serious this time. "Does he, like, kill someone?"

"I'm gonna kill you if you don't stop talking." I raised an eyebrow at him and he mimicked zipping his lips. "Cripes…" I rubbed my eyes. "This is when it gets weird. Weirder."

"Your life can get weirder?" Shawn blurted out.

"Will you shut up?!" I grabbed my cup of hot chocolate and chugged it, not caring that my throat was now burning. My nerves were tied tighter than metal coils. At least I was not crying anymore. That was not pretty; it was never pretty. "Okay," I continued, "here comes the weird part, so keep your mother lovin' mouth shut. Jesse started to hit on me. And not like oh-he's-a-player-hitting-on-his-girlfriend's-twin-sister. It was disturbing. He would come up behind me and scare the shit out of me, like come up behind me and put his hands on my waist. You know when you can just tell that something isn't right with someone? There was something totally fucked up with Jesse."

Slowly, Shawn raised his hand. "Can I ask a question?"

I rolled my eyes. "Sure, I guess."

"Did Desiree know any of this? 'Cause if she did, then that's pretty messed up that she stayed with him. But if she didn't know, then did you tell her? Was there a big confrontation? Did she bitch slap you?!" He gasped.

Why do I even bother? "First," I said, "she didn't really know how creepy he was. He seemed relatively normal when she was around—at least when they first started dating. I think after a while the creepiness started to come out when they were together, but I think she ignored it—like, if she didn't see it, then it didn't exist. I didn't really want to tell her about it, either. At first it was only a little weird, but then it got… really weird. That was when I started to tell her. Not that she actually listened to me…"

"Because she's your sister," said Shawn matter-of-factly.

"Yeah, the little bitch," I muttered. "No matter what I said, she always believed him over me. Excuse me, but we spent nine months cramped into the same womb together. That should count for something. But, Jesse started getting weirder and weirder. Then there was the party. It was at stupid Quinn Murphy's house, too, the little hoe face slut bag. It was a freakin' blow out. There were enough people in that house to sink the Titanic. I don't even know why I went…"

No, that was a lie. I knew why I went, and his name was Elliot. But Shawn did not need to know that. No one needed to know that. Desiree was the only who know knew that. That was a story for a different day. And by "different day," I mean never.

"I saw Desiree and Jesse dancing in one of the rooms. It wasn't so much dancing as mating. I avoided them. Actually, I was hoping that Jesse didn't see me, but of course he did." I adjusted my legs on the couch, flipping them over so my weight was on my other hip. My legs were starting to fall asleep since this was such a long story. "For most of the night I had an okay time. I hung out with my friend, Carli."

"Is she cute?" Shawn asked.

"Is that relevant?" I responded.

He shrugged. "Not really. I'll just Facebook stalk her later. I have to make sure that you're hanging out with the right kind of people. Don't want you to get involved with the wrong crowd, you know. I'm just watching your back. You can thank me later."

I told myself to text Carli later and tell her not to accept any friend requests from someone named Shawn, no matter how cute she thought he was—it would be the worst mistake of her life. "To continue," I said, and Shawn grinned at me, "the party went on like any other out-of-control teenage party can. I'm pretty sure there was a fight and someone got knocked up. You know, the norm. So, by the time one o'clock rolled around, I was a little buzzed." Shawn raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. I knew what he was thinking: Dominique, you were drinking? Ooh, that is so not you. The thing was, I do drink, just not in excess. A few sips here and there are enough to keep me happy and sober. That night, though, I was not in the mood to listen to my depressing sober thoughts. I wanted to get wasted, to forget my sucky week. I think I just cracked and saw drinking as an escape. Thankfully, Carli kept me in line. She would take my drink out of my hand and place it on the counter or a table, never to return to it. Without her, I don't know what would have happened.

"I knew that there was a bathroom in Quinn's parents' bedroom, and I really had to go, so I went up there instead of waiting in the line downstairs. After I did my business, I kind of stumbled out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. It was dark. I don't know why I never turned the lights on. That was stupid. But the next thing I knew, someone had their arms around my waist. It was Jesse." I swallowed. "He was hugging me from behind. It's not like he was attacking me, but it was a pretty rough hug. His head was right here next to my head. I might have been a little drunk, but he was definitely out of it. His breath reeked." The memory flashed in my mind. Despite drinking, I could remember it clearly.

"He kept calling me Desiree. I kept telling him that I wasn't Desiree—I'm Dominique. He didn't listen. Or he couldn't hear, since he was attacking my neck with his disgusting mouth. Jesse's hands had moved from my waist to my legs and he pushed me toward the bed. Jesse's not a really big guy—he's about average size—but he was a lot stronger than I expected. He practically flung me onto the bed and climbed on top of me."

Shawn's eyes narrowed, but he remained still.

"I kept telling him that I was Dominique." My voice cracked, but I recovered. I would not cry like some little kid. I was stronger than that. "I kept fighting him, but it didn't help. He got my pants off before I thought of something. I dug in his pants pocket and pulled out his car keys. I tried to convince him that he should be driven home. He was too drunk to drive himself home. That just made him confused and angry. He tried to grab the keys out of my hands and…"

I flung my legs over the edge of the couch and stood up. Carefully, I worked the edge of my jeans past my hip, where the pink scar stood out against my skin.

"He did that to you?" The anger in Shawn's voice made me jump.

"Well… yeah, kind of," I said, looking at the ground. I was ashamed of the scar. "The keys went in pretty deep. They had to call an ambulance. I'm surprised someone heard me screaming over the music. There was so much blood. I needed seven stitches." I resumed my position on the couch and wrapped my arms around myself, trying not to shudder. I couldn't take blood after that. The sight of it… it made me sick.

"That's it." I couldn't bring myself to look at Shawn. "That's why I hate Jesse."

Shawn was silent for a couple minutes. Then, he slid closer to me. "Do you think he did it on purpose?" he asked lightly.

Did I? Did I think that my sister's creepy ex-boyfriend knew what he was doing when he attacked me? "I'm not sure," I finally said. "I think about that a lot… Sometimes I think he did. Jesse was such a creep before, so part of me wonders if he was just using it as an excuse to… get with me. But I also know that he was very drunk and that Desiree and I are practically identical. I'm really not sure. I don't even know if he meant to hurt me with the keys. That's why I didn't file charges—I'm not entirely sure if he did it on purpose."

Shawn was watching me carefully. "Do you hate him?"

"Yes." There was no doubt about that. "But I hated him before, too." Now he just haunted my nightmares. And that was why my family thought it would be peachy for me to get therapy. I had to "talk it out." What I wanted to do was forget and "talking it out" was not going to let me do that. Having Jesse in the area was not helping, either.

"There's more," Shawn said, his voice strong, as if he wanted to know everything and was not going to take no for an answer. "You were screaming something earlier about Desiree lying to you and seeing—and I'm quoting you here—'that god awful piece of shit.' I think I know who the piece of shit in question is." His brows furrowed. "I don't think I like the way this is going. Tell me."

Whoa, there. But I guess I had already practically told him my life story. What would a little more information do? "Well," I said, "I think Desiree is seeing Jesse again. My friend Carli told me that she had heard he had left town a while ago and that no one knew where he was. Then… someone told me that he had, uh, seen Desiree out with some dude." I couldn't spill it to Shawn that Desiree really had not been on their date that night… or last night. "And now Desiree keeps lying to me and disappearing, and I think she's seeing Jesse."

Shawn's mouth became a straight line. "Why the fuck would she do that?"

"It gets worse." I shook my head. "I haven't seen her since last night. She has my car. When I was driving to school today I heard on the radio that someone had practically ran over this guy, but they got the license plate number. I knew it was Jesse's. It sounded like his car, too. So now I'm freaking out because my sister might get into legal trouble because of that scumbag, and I have no clue where she is, and if she is with Jesse I'm going to rip her head off."

"Do you know she's with him?" Shawn asked. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure," I snapped. I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand, holding my glasses with the other. "Sorry. It's just, she's been acting so weird lately and she refuses to tell me where she's going. I have that gut feeling. I can't get over the fact that she picked him over me. She knows what happened. She knows how I feel about him. I'm her sister. I'm supposed to rank above any guy, especially ones who are total…" I couldn't come up with a good insult. The tears were starting to form in my eyes again. God dammit.

Shawn slid even closer to me. "Do you need a hug?"

Like I needed a lobotomy. "No."

That didn't work. Shawn leaned in and wrapped his arms around me, pulling my head onto his shoulder. And all I could think was, He smells good. What the hell was wrong with me? What the hell was wrong with my life? I was trying hard not to cry again. I was not a crier. I had already let tears fall once today; I had filled up my quota for the year. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The sappiness was over. "Okay," I murmured into his shoulder. "I'm better. Now get the fuck off me."

He chuckled and released me. "Now you sound like the Dominique I know."

I heard a car pull into the driveway. Desiree? I thought, jumping up from the couch and running to a window. No, it was my dad's car. "Crap!" I spun around and looked at the wall clock. 5:32. How had it gotten to be so late? "And I was supposed to make dinner," I groaned. I had one nice thing to do for my dad and I had completely forgotten. "Shawn. Leave. Now."

He stuck his head up over the side of the couch and mockingly glared at me. "What? After you spill your guts out to me? I see how it is. Use 'em and lose 'em, huh?"

I stuck my hands on my hips. "Now is not the time, Shawn. I have a missing sister and a clueless father who's expecting a home cooked meal right now. If you feel lonely, I'll text you later. For now, use the back door. Please."

"Fine." Shawn stood up and dusted himself off. "Send me on the walk of shame." He shuffled toward the sliding door that led to the deck and sent me a pathetic look over his shoulder before slipping out of the house.

I let out a great sigh. Seconds later the front door opened. I listened to my dad put his coat in the front closet and then migrate to the kitchen, where he was probably making a cup of coffee. I knew what I had to do. There was no more waiting. I mentally prepared myself. Now or never.

"Hi, Dad." I stepped into the kitchen, afraid to make eye contact. It didn't matter. Dad was playing with the coffee machine, and judging from the barrage of swears coming from his mouth, it was not complying. "Dad."

This time he heard me. Dad glanced over his shoulder before returning to the coffee machine. "Oh, hi, Dominique. This stupid thing isn't working and all I want is a nice cup of coffee."

"Dad." I took another deep breath. You got this, Dom. "I have something to tell you. But maybe I should wait for you to get your coffee first. You might need it."

Dad turned around again and looked me in the eye. "Should I be worried?

I said nothing.

He sighed. "Does it have to do with why you're driving Desiree's car?"

"Yeah," I said. "I'll give you the easy news first. I don't have dinner ready for tonight. I kind of forgot. I'd say we could order Chinese, but after I'm done, we probably won't feel like eating." I did not feel like eating to begin with. I felt so sick to my stomach that I was afraid I was going to see my lunch again. I could go through my entire life without having to see that again.

A few minutes later, Dad had his coffee and he was sitting opposite me at the kitchen table. His hands were wrapped around the mug, like I had had my hands wrapped around my hot chocolate hours earlier. Carefully, he brought the cup to his mouth and sipped. I knew he was waiting for me to start, but I did not want to. I did not want to have to tell him about Desiree and Jesse.

"I don't know where Desiree is," I finally said. "I haven't seen her since last night. I don't know if she was even at school today. I didn't see her, and I asked Abbie and Shawn but they didn't see her either. She has my car, too, but that's a whole other story and it's not important right now. The point is, I'm worried. Really worried."

"She's not answering her phone?" Dad asked.

"I've called her phone about a million times." I felt myself getting angry, but I pushed the feeling aside. Of course I'd tried to call her. I had been trying all day. "She's either ignoring me or some crazed homeless guy killed her and she's rotting in a ditch right now." Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud.

Dad's frown deepened and he gripped his coffee mug tighter. "Dominique, don't say that. Of course I'm worried about her, but that's no way to think. We have to stay calm and think rationally."

He could think rationally because he didn't know that Jesse was involved. That was the part I was scared to tell him. My dad knew what had happened. He knew how I felt. Heck, he was the one that wanted me to see a crazy doctor (Though from a parent's point of view, I understand his reasoning). I was almost scared to tell him. My dad was a pretty leveled-headed guy—he was usually able to keep his cool around Desiree and me, and we are a piece of work—but when he got angry, whoa boy.

"There's more, Dad." I looked down at the tabletop, wringing my hands together in my lap. "It started, like, a month ago."

The phone cut me off. Dad closed his eyes for a moment, as if to say, "What now?" before standing up and picking the phone off the wall receiver. "Hello?" Slowly, his face turned blank and then a frown deepened until thick lines ran down both cheeks. "Wait, wait. Slow down. Say that again…." Dad listened intently. "Desiree…"

"Desiree!" I stood up from my chair, almost knocking it over. "Is that her? Is she okay?" I scrambled up to Dad and pulled the phone away from him. "Desiree? It's Dominique. Where are you? Please tell me that some crazed homeless guy didn't try to kill you and now you have amnesia and you could only remember our phone number. And just to let you know, if I wasn't so relieved I would be strangling you through the phone right now."

"Nice to talk to you, too, Dominique," Desiree snorted. "I appreciate you not killing me."

"Hey, missy," I said, "you better cut the snark and tell me the exact coordinates of your location so I can come and bring your butt back home."

Dad started to say something, but I held up a hand.

"Dominique," my sister continued, "I just told Dad where I am and I want to get the heck out of here, so why don't you just hang up and he can explain it to you while you drive over here, okay? I'm not really in the mood for this right now."

Okay, she had gone too far. I had had it. Did I mean nothing to her? "Not in the mood?!" I hissed. "After all I've done for you the last couple weeks? After what you've done to me? Yeah, Desiree, I know about him. So you better put yourself in a good fucking mood and tell me where the hell you are!"

The line was silent for a moment. "Fine. I'm in jail. I need you guys to come bail me out. Like, right now."

To be continued…