Chapter 41: Hands of a Monster
Jessica felt the same type of fear reminiscent of when she had first come to The Polis—she was not safe. Her life was in danger.
Dustin was so close to her that she couldn't get around him to get to the bedroom, nor couldn't turn around to leave.
If I called for help, would Gustavo hear me? Would he come? "Dustin," she tried to speak without quavering. "You were at dinner, and Gustavo just happened to run into me…"
"Don't be so naïve, Jessica. Just happened to run into you? Well isn't that convenient." Dustin threw his book on the ground so violently, that Jessica was sure it cried out in pain as it hit the wood floor. She flinched upon its impact, and felt the doorknob she was leaning on, grind into her back ruthlessly.
Suddenly, she had a strong urge to shut her eyes and pretend she was having a nightmare—to pretend that she was really home with her family. Funny, I haven't had that thought in a while.
Something reflected on her face must have calmed Dustin down a little. "Look," he said evenly, "you just don't understand the politics here well enough yet."
"You're right," she admitted, "it's because you never tell me anything about this place." She wanted to add, "In one afternoon with Gustavo, I've learned more than all this time I have spent here with you," but she thought that Gustavo's name would surely set him off again. She couldn't bring herself to make eye contact with him. Is it the kiss that is making me feel so guilty?
"Jess, what are you talking about?" Dustin seemed to be responding to the pain and uncertainty in Jessica's voice by forcing himself to calm down. He reached one hand up to caress her face, but she flinched.
"Please, just don't touch me right now."
He resolved to putting both hands on either side of her head without touching her, and waiting for her to make eye contact with him.
They stayed like that for sixty seconds before Jessica broke the silence. "I just need some time to think about things," she said. "Can I go to the bedroom?"
Dustin didn't say anything, but gradually moved aside to let her pass. She was almost to the bedroom when he said, "You just don't know, Jess, what people like here are really like."
"Dustin, sometimes I'm not really sure what you're really like."
Jessica shut the bedroom door softly and lay down on the bed. She didn't feel the need to go into the bathroom and lock the door. Dustin didn't seem likely to bother her any time soon. Despite his lack of past relationships, at least he knows when to give a girl space. But did Jessica need space? Being with Gustavo that afternoon had been so easy. What would he have done if he were there with Jessica, and not Dustin? Well, we wouldn't have fought like that, that's for sure. It was hard for Jessica to imagine Gustavo getting jealous, or violently angry in the way that Dustin did. Jessica shut her eyes and tried to imagine getting in a fight with Gustavo. He'd probably just apologize and tell me I'm beautiful. When was the last time Dustin had done that?
The uncertainties about her and Dustin's relationship that had plagued her earlier and led to her situation with Gustavo, assaulted her now at full-force. What if? What if Dustin and I had met outside of the Polis? Would I have just thought he was some arrogant asshole? Would he have fallen in love with someone else? If I hadn't met Dustin, would I have been in a relationship with anyone? Am I ready for a relationship? What would my parents think of Dustin? If the police came today and set me free, would I still love Dustin? Do I love Dustin now?
Jess….What have I done now? I didn't mean to scare you, but I am scared. Scared of what might happen to you if my father were to find out you were interested in someone other than who he brought you here for in the first place, scared of hurting you, scared of you getting hurt by others.
Dustin didn't dare invade the sanctity of the room Jessica had retreated to. He looked down at his hands as if he were Dr. Frankenstein looking down at what his hands had just done. To Dustin, Jessica was like a flower, soft, sweet, vulnerable. He wanted to treat her gently like one would a flower, but his temper made him clumsy and the calluses he had long developed on his heart expanded only slowly to let love in.
Jessica deserves to be with someone who will protect her, not scare her. Someone who she can depend on, not have to hide from. Someone who will love her, not try to possess her.
Did Gustavo really like Jessica? Or was he only trying to use her as a way of hurting Dustin?
Jessica hated the decision she had come to, but she knew it had to be done. From what little she knew about The Polis, she felt like she could get away with it without getting in, or getting Dustin into too much trouble. Now, how do I tell Dustin? She sat on the edge of the bed, wringing her hands and bouncing one foot up and down. She stood up and faced back and forth a few times. It's the only way, the only way I'll know for sure. This will be the best for both of us in the end. Will he understand?
Finally, she got up the courage to confront him in the living room. "Dustin," she said, hurrying to speak before she lost her nerve. He was sitting on the couch, and had Frankenstein in his lap, but it wasn't open.
The look of pain on his face almost broke her heart, but she continued. "Look, I love you, but I don't want to love you with any doubt that TheOnlyReasonWhyILoveYouIsBecauseIWasForcedIntoIt," she blurted. She didn't know any better way to say it, but she knew it had to be said.
Dustin was quiet for a moment. "Jessica, you shouldn't love someone who scares you like I do." He looked down at his hands. "I remember how my dad used to treat my mom when she was alive, and I hated it. I don't want to be like that."
She wanted to lie and tell him she hadn't been scared, but even remembering the look on his face gave her shivers.
"I want you to be happy, and feel safe…well, as safe as you can while here, and if you think that's with Gustavo, then you should be with him."
"Dustin-" she could feel herself blushing, and her lips tingled remembering the kiss she had shared with Gustavo earlier. "It's not that I don't want to be with you, or that I do want to be with him, I just want to have some space to think about things."
Dustin didn't say anything, but kept looking down at his hands. Jessica sat down next to him and put her hands in his, then raised them to her face. Dustin left his hands on either side of her face, but when she leaned in to kiss him, he turned his head. She took his chin and forced him to face her, then she kissed him softly. "I would like to spend a week in the single girls' dormitory. I was thinking we could tell people that you thought I could use a week of uninterrupted study before I could satisfy you as a wife."
Dustin smiled bitterly, "Yeah, you're the one who needs to study."
"Trust me, dude, if they had a husband camp of some kind that I could send you to, I would," she said, to try and break the ice a little.
But Dustin seemed too preoccupied. "Some people will believe you, but some won't. My father being one of those ones who won't."
"But all the girls I take classes with, and the teachers, they would vouch for me. I pretty much suck at everything."
Dustin smiled, "If this is something you need, we'll make it happen."
Jessica kissed him. "Walk me there?"
"Yeah, just be sure to bring your notebook, and behave." He smirked.
"What? So no telling the other girls to fuck off when the tell me I need to diet, get better at fellatio, and cook 5-course meals for you every day?"
"Hey now, you need to be an active student for all that stuff if we're going to pull this off. Especially the fellatio." He winked, but his heart was breaking. I'm losing her.
"Ew. I'm not even, ew." I'm going to miss sleeping next to him. Will I be able to sleep tonight?
Dustin walked Jessica to the single girls' dorm, in the same room she had stayed the first night after coming to The Polis, and when he got back to his apartment, he had an unwelcomed guest.
"You just let yourself into another man's home?"
"I don't see any men here, Dustin. And you forget, this is my home. I merely allow you to stay here."
Rochester was sitting comfortable on the couch, holding Dustin's book and thumbing through it thoughtfully.
"What am I going to do about you, Dustin?"
Dustin remained quiet, still in the doorway.
"I heard that wife of yours, the girl you just had to have, is now sleeping her way through the other boys of The House?"
Dustin still didn't say anything. He knew his father wouldn't listen to reasonable explanations, and how could he have been so stupid to leave his book sitting out in the open?
"Did she get you to start reading this trash? Mary Shelly? Women don't write books, Dustin, and if they do, then it's nothing any son of mine is going to be reading. Your wife should be here with you now, cleaning up after a meal that she spent a lot of time and care making for you. Did I not raise you with any sense of honor at all?"
Dustin ignored his questions and accusations. "Jessica's cooking tastes like shit, so I am punishing her by making her do extra studying in the women's dormitory for the week."
Rochester stood up and walked to where Dustin was standing. He seemed to be contemplating what Dustin had said. Dustin could tell he approved of his putting down of Jessica, and also the word punishment.
"Whose idea was this?"
"Mine. She cried when I refused to eat her food. I ate in the cafeteria today and she got upset."
"Really? Upset? Because I heard she was playing with that Gustavo boy, and seemed…very much less than upset to be doing so."
"You know what people around here are like with their gossip." Dustin tried to brush it off.
"Mmmhmmmm. Gossip." Rochester walked past Dustin to leave. "I'm taking this trash with me, and if I ever catch you with contraband in here again, especially something not written by an 18th century scholar, you're getting moved into the basement."
"And Dustin," Rochester said, before Dustin could shut the door on him. "If that whore of a wife of yours goes anywhere near Gustavo or any other boy for the week she's not here, I'm making her disappear and finding you a new wife."
Dustin would have been stupid to think that Rochester would send Jessica back home, and Dustin was not a stupid person.
Author's note: Man, I didn't realize I had left that last chapter on such a cliffhanger! What a douche of me. Also, sorry this one is a little short, I know where I want my next chapter to go, I just need to brainstorm out the details. Also, I feel like this one was so…soap opera-esque. If you feel the same way, then don't hesitate to flame me in comments :P Thanks, as always, for reading! :D