The Bullied

Chapter Thirteen

Her house was a respectable size. Not too small but nothing large enough to suggest anything but middle-class. Two story, probably 2 bedrooms at best. I knew from watching that she lived with her mom and dad, no siblings. The neighbourhood was usually quiet, no idiotic kids running around. My car was parked on the street, four houses away, and I had been briefly concerned that someone would notice how often I was parked out front, but the neighbours seemed to keep to themselves.

I was lucky today; no rain and the curtains weren't drawn fully so I could see her sitting in an armchair from bushes outside the window. It seemed like she was sitting in a living room or some kind of den, reading something in a textbook. Probably homework.

She looked frustrated. Good. Seeing her troubled face pleased me, for reasons I couldn't explain. Things hadn't been going to plan as of late, but I would soon change that. If she really believed she could avoid me until graduation, then she was a bigger idiot than I thought.

Hidden from the sight of any unwelcome onlookers, I watched Emmeline struggle with her homework at her home for the better part of the hour before I was satisfied. For now, watching her after school was enough, but this situation was only temporary. Before long, things would go back to how they were soon enough.

One Year Ago

For the next few weeks, my friends said I seemed like a totally different person. Apparently, I was more nervous, jumpier on the whole, and my cell phone was now always at my fingertips.

Unbeknownst to them, I was fearful of getting (or missing) any messages. Roman had already messaged me a few times and I didn't want to deal with his anger by being late to respond again. My shoulder still stung from where he'd bitten me the last time he'd "punished" me for being late to respond.

I had always thought "love bites" were something romantic and playful when I'd read about them. Nope. I was wrong. This was no cute, harmless love bite. I had literally shrieked when his teeth sank into my flesh, breaking the skin and briefly making me wonder if he wasn't actually some kind of cannibal. Roman had been amused at my reaction, but he'd also been annoyed that he had to cover my mouth to avoid us being overheard. I'd risked us getting caught and above anything else, getting caught seemed to agitate Roman more than anything else.

Looking at my skittish behaviour, Aya was convinced I must have found a boyfriend and was dying to know the details. Horrified at the prospect of explaining what I actually had instead of a loving boyfriend, I had laughed it off and managed to pivot the conversation back to her and her newfound relationship with Reid.

Reid and Aya had clearly liked each other since they'd first met and Samuel, Jace, and I were thrilled to see them together at last. Nanami had also sent her well wishes, but she had also warned them both to be careful. Nanami, wiser than all of us, had clued in first to the fact that their relationship would be difficult. Since Aya was Muslim, her parents weren't supportive of her dating before marriage, an idea Aya vehemently disagreed with.

"It's ridiculous! They don't want me to date, but they also eventually hope I bring home a nice young man to marry," said Aya, throwing her hands up in exasperation one lunch period. "How do you find someone worth introducing to your parents if you can't date!?"

I could only agree with her with my own limited understanding of her religious or cultural beliefs. The concept of dating hadn't come up with my own parents. Though I couldn't imagine they would be upset if I introduced them to a "nice boy who I was going out with", they definitely would not have approved of the kind of relationship I had going with Roman. Wincing, I didn't linger on the thought. My parents would have undoubtedly been ashamed of me. Who could even blame them? I hated myself too.

Reid had been fully aware of the difficulties he would face in dating Aya, but from the beginning, he had been adamant that they try. Aya had not agreed to date Reid immediately; she didn't think it would be fair to subject Reid to such a relationship and had turned him down many times, but in the end, Reid was persistent and Aya couldn't deny her feelings. For now, both of them decided to keep their dating a secret from everyone with the exception of Jace, Samuel, Nanami, and myself.

Reid and Aya weren't the only ones who were faring well in terms of their romantic life. We had been sitting in the cafeteria together, playing cards, when Jace had awkwardly cleared his throat.

"So… uhh, just thought I'd let everyone here know that I got a girlfriend," said Jace, smiling sheepishly. Everyone, except Reid, stopped playing cards to gawk at Jace.

"Oh my gosh, you did it! You asked Jenny out!" I squealed. Jace nodded, still grinning, only a light dusting of pink was visible high on his cheekbones. I beamed at my friend, feeling proud.

"Wait, wait, Jenny Yang? The smart one?" asked Samuel, looking dumbfounded, as he absent-mindedly lowered his hand to the table (I could see he only had a pair of sevens).

"That's the one, and I win," said Reid smoothly, throwing down his poker hand. It seemed as though Reid was already aware that Jenny and Jace had begun dating. Aya threw down her hand (a pair of eights) in disgust and immediately launched into a flurry of questions.

"You cannot just announce something that huge and not give us a play-by-play! How did it happen? What did Jenny say exactly after you asked her?"

"She said 'okay, sure'," said Jace, looking surprised at the question. Reid shrugged, uninterested and shuffled the cards. I giggled as Aya's eyes bugged out dramatically, but she pressed onward, undeterred.

"Okay, what else? How did she react? Did she seem surprised, excited, embarrassed? Where did you ask her out?" she asked, impatiently.

"I dunno, she seemed normal? I asked her out by her locker, the bell had already rung so there weren't too many people around, seemed like a good moment," replied Jace, casually picking up his next hand doled out by Reid.

As the rest of the guys congratulated Jace again, I held back a laugh seeing Aya's face fall at the lack of details. I knew she would have loved to hear the details and analyze the interactions, but she seemed to get that some guys just don't share her enthusiasm and didn't press for further details.

"Yeah, if it's cool with you guys, I might uh, you know, ask Jenny to eat lunch with us sometimes," said Jace, glancing around hopefully for our opinions. Everyone agreed wholeheartedly. I could tell this pleased Aya who no doubt wanted to see how the two interacted in person. I had a silly moment where I imagined telling everyone at the table that Roman and I fool around together on school property and would everyone mind if I asked him to our table to play poker and eat lunch with us?

In my imagination, the look of shock on my friends' faces, but most of all, the look of distaste I could picture on all of their faces, was enough to shame me into relative silence for the rest of the lunch period. Sickened, I picked up my newly shuffled cards to play another round.

Roman and I were on the floor of the darkroom. He held perfectly still as I held onto his naked shoulders with trembling fingers, sliding my hands gently down his chest. His own hands were behind him, supporting his body weight as he leaned backward on the tiled floor with me, down to my underwear, in his lap. I was thankful for the darkness of the small dark room, lit only by our two cell phones strewn on the floor near our clothes.

I felt my heart flutter pathetically fast like a butterfly's wings, my breathing loud and embarrassed. Although the last-minute nature of this meet-up had been annoying, this time had been different. He'd been gentler touching me, coaxing me out of my clothes sweetly and pulling me into his lap, though he followed up by commanding me to touch him myself, for the first time ever.

I could tell we'd been progressing in the intimacy, getting more and more involved with one another, closer to the actual act of having sex, as Roman had said we would. At first, we'd just been kissing, then it was some low-level nudity, but now, it went beyond that with him asking me to touch him while I was almost fully naked in school. Pathetically, I remember that I was just relieved he didn't make me remove my underwear too. Not seeking sex today…

I had protested at first, already too nervous to even attempt to touch his body, but he had insisted. His hard, smooth chest, strong broad shoulders, muscled arms, even his very skin. Everything had felt so different from my own body. A part of me had been a bit excited at the chance to explore an actual guy's body, and I was stunned to realize how little I actually knew about the male form. No doubt I had been super shy and awkward touching him, but somehow the experience was not unpleasant. It had even felt somewhat tender compared to the other times.

The silly, idealistic part of me romanticized the moment and felt some glimmer of hope that maybe this was a turning point for us. Maybe he was starting to see me romantically after all? At the very least, squirming in his lap with my naked breasts brush lightly against his chest as I gingerly felt his shoulders, I could feel that he was sexually aroused (painfully so), though he made no move to act on it or touch me himself. Roman had been completely silent as I touched him, but he didn't seem to be annoyed or dissatisfied in any sense. In fact, the intensity of his stare, made out only by the faint glow of our cell phones, was unnerving. Once again, I was grateful for the darkness, I felt slightly protected from his gaze; I knew I would be writhing in mortification if I had to sit there, naked, and touch him in the light.

"I suppose you've never touched a guy before, huh?" said Roman suddenly, breaking our peaceful silence. I shook my head. "Felt like I was getting felt-up by some overeager nurse."

"I-I only did because you asked me, I didn't—I w-wouldn't ever have—," I stammered, immediately mortified, embarrassed, and angry. The fluttering in my heart stopping abruptly as though the butterfly had been squashed flat. I could hear the cruel amusement in his voice; Roman always loved to put me in my place. Anger surged through me, mostly at myself; how could I forget what he was really like? How was I still holding out hope?

"Get up; we're leaving now. I can't be spending all my time with you, princess. Got to spend some quality time with my girlfriend, someone who actually knows how to touch a guy," he whispered cruelly, smirking viciously and cupping my cheek mockingly as he kissed me deeply.

My eyes filled with angry tears and I could feel a large lump in my throat. I said nothing as Roman finished kissing me, then stood to put on his shirt and pick up his cell phone as he walked out, leaving me behind in the dark room with my clothes discarded on the dark floor. Asshole.

A few weeks had passed since our last rendezvous and it seemed as though Roman knew he'd gone too far in his shitty treatment of me. For one thing, he'd sent me a message saying that he would let me focus on my friends and schoolwork for the time being.

I had seen him and Karen around the hallways for several days (it made my boil to see them together, knowing he dared to use me while cheating on her), but recently, Karen and Roman seemed to have gone through a dramatic break-up and all the rumours seemed to suggest it was for good this time. It hadn't been hard to figure out what had happened either; Karen had cheated and Roman dumped her after finding out. While Karen had dramatically shed tears and asked for forgiveness, Roman had apparently coldly rejected her and said he didn't tolerate cheaters. The hypocrisy on his end, which no one else knew about, had made me sick to my stomach. What an utter scumbag; what right does he have to get mad at her for cheating when he's coercing me to do things with him…?

Soon after their break-up, Roman had sent me a message during the middle of my last period class asking to meet up and to bring my things with me. I knew right away that something was different about this meeting. For one thing, Roman asking me to meet him backstage in the auditorium was unusual; it was somewhere we'd never gone before. Second, he had never before asked me to bring my books and things before. Generally, I would skip about 15 minutes of class; I'd never left in the middle of class with my things before. Fear overtook me as I began to imagine what a change in location could mean. Was this it? Was I really about to lose my virginity on school grounds to this asshole of a guy?

I fought with myself for several minutes and he seemed to sense my indecision.

Come now or I swear you won't like what I eventually do when I get my hands on you, Emmeline. Come now while I'm still being nice.

Terrified and unwilling to suffer his anger, I left the classroom. I got lucky too; no excuses were needed since it had been an independent study session period in business and the teacher had left the room. As I worked toward the auditorium, I wondered if Roman had known that my business teacher liked to hold poorly supervised independent study sessions.

I glanced around covertly to make sure no one was watching and then pulled open the auditorium door, slipping in through the small opening and shutting the door quietly behind myself. I was surprised by how quiet and empty the auditorium room was when unfilled. My footsteps seemed to echo loudly as I walked toward the stage and I could feel my heart racing as though I was in a horror movie. The lighting was dim and seemed to cast eerie shadows on the stage and the front rows of seats, making the whole scene even creepier.

Gingerly, I climbed the set of stairs to the right of the stage and walked behind the curtains, fighting a momentary urge to flee. This was really happening, wasn't it? I was really about to have sex with a guy who was only attracted to my body. And then I saw Roman, sitting backstage on some kind large black mat, almost like a gym mat, but taller. There was no sneer on his face no word spoken. Just his eyes meeting mine, like the predator finally spotting his weak prey. I knew right then that this was the day at last.

"Take off all of your clothes and come here, Emmeline." Swallowing, my hands reached up automatically to unbutton my shirt and I walked towards Roman.

We were both breathing loudly and harshly in the dim lighting. My eyes were still flooding non-stop with silent tears, a combination of the pain, shock, and shame of what I'd just been forced to participate in. My insides felt like they'd been stretched beyond tolerance and I felt completely invaded and other. It was like my body was no longer just mine anymore. It was his too, now.

I was covered in love bites, my nipples were sore and red from how hard he'd sucked on them, how hard he'd squeezed my breasts, my entire body was flushed and sweaty, my hair was a rumpled mess. I knew I looked used. I certainly felt used, dirty, and shameful, all at once. It hadn't felt good at all, just painful and shocking. I briefly wondered if this dirty feeling was normal or if it would dissipate with time and more experience.

Above me, Roman had already put on his boxers and pants and was seated on the edge of the mat while I just lay there, completely naked and sore between my legs. He still looked attractive (and decidedly un-used) with his bare back to me though I couldn't see the sinfully satisfied expression on his face from my angle. As I lie there, he silently reached for his shirt and pulled it over his head.

Did I really want my first time to be in school on a dusty mat? No. Did I really want to get up and walk out of here, feeling sore and slippery like this? No. Did I actually want to have sex with Roman, a guy who was physically attractive but treated me like shit? No. But I couldn't focus on these things. If I did, I would break into a million pieces. I had to look on the bright side.

At least he was incredibly attractive by anyone's standards. At least he'd been gentle and knew what to do to make it less painful for me. At least he'd worn a condom without me having to ask. At least he'd only done it once. The horror seemed to be mounting and I tried hard to push it aside, gasping loudly as I suddenly struggled to breathe.

Roman turned to study me, passively. I was still gasping for breath as he stared at me. There was no expression on his face at all, nothing. It was like he was looking at some kind of inanimate object with nothing but a vague disinterest, studying me being unravelled. It disturbed me that after what we had just done, he still saw me as nothing worth acknowledging or addressing.

As more seconds passed, I was more and more overcome with how disgusting I felt. Here I was, having my whole world changed and shifted while he was just watching me like I was the biggest joke in the world. He'd had a girlfriend before me, so I knew he'd already had this experience. If anything, I was nobody special to him. Just a new hole for him to use. I wasn't even a real person to him, nothing worth acknowledging. Just something to be used and discarded.

"Get dressed and go home. We're done here."

Author's Note: Happy new year! Here's hoping 2023 is a better year than 2021 and 2022 for all of us! I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. As always, please leave me reviews (with some good dark romance novel recommendations please!).