"I love you," she said sweetly as she lay on his chest. His shirtless body kept her warm as she stroked her finger across him, her beautiful brown hair draped across his shoulder, flowing downwards around his neck. Her own body seemed to form perfectly around his, except around his stomach, which just protrudes out and over her slender body. She tries to look in his eyes but he doesn't do the same. He's too enamored with whatever is on television to even acknowledge her presence.

"Love you too, babe." He responded back, never taking his eyes off of the television. Tony doesn't really respond much anymore. All he really does is work, watch television, and sleep. He works as a foreman so he doesn't really maintain his looks very often and you could really tell in his face. His facial hair is mismatched, patches here and there, some of it barely covering a scar on his left cheek from when he was more involved with his job. His stomach sticks out due to all the beer he consumes and the lack of exercise.

"I've been thinking we should go out tonight, to a nice restaurant this time, maybe the Ravilier, since we rarely go out anymore. Tony, we didn't even do anything for our anniversary. Well, YOU didn't." She said to him as she let out a sigh, closed her eyes, and laid her head back down on his bare chest.

"What can I say? I love your cooking." He let out a dry chuckle. "Plus, it was poker night with the guys. Now, why don't you be a darling and get me another beer? I'm starting to run low." He let out a belch and tossed the empty beer can towards the trash can, missing it completely. The can hit the wall and whatever was left in it was now trickling down, leaving a trail along the wall and onto the floor. "And clean that up before you go." He orders without averting his eyes away from the television set. She didn't budge. She stayed in the same position, holding him tightly, refusing to obey his command.

"Go get me a beer. Now. I know you can hear me." This time looking right at her. She could feel his eyes piercing her, and before she could say a word, he pushes her off the bed and away from him. Her bottom hits first with a thud from the thin cheap carpet.

"What the hell, Tony? Why did you push me off?" She says sternly while picking herself up.

"I told you to go get me a beer, now didn't I? And don't act like you didn't hear me, you're laying right next me, so since you wanted to ignore me, I had to teach you a lesson. Just be lucky I don't beat you." He says jokingly but she knew better. She knew that he was joking at this moment, but she believes that there might be a day where he won't be joking. "Now, go and get me a beer, dammit." She begins to leave the room tears softly rolling down her face, but as she gets to the doorway he replies, "Babe, I do love you, but you just don't listen. If you just did what you were told, then I wouldn't have to be so hard on you. You understand, right sweetie?" He tries to make himself sound sincere and caring but he only cares about himself and nobody else. She looks in his cold eyes but her love for him keeps her from seeing the truth.

"Of course, Tony. You are completely right, I'm real sorry I don't listen. I'll work on it, okay?" She smiles at him, the kind of smile that only someone who was love stricken would give.

"I'm glad to hear it. Now, how about you work on getting me a beer." His eyes fixated on the television again.

"Of course, dear. Anything you want." She left only to return shortly with a nice cold beer in her hand. "Here you go, snuggle bunny." She hands him the beer, only to have it snatched from her.

"Don't ever fucking call me that. You know how much I hate that name. You got that!?" He shouts with hatred that was seethed by anger. you can see the tiny miniscule veins in his bloodshot eyes.

She drops to her knees crying, "I'm so sorry, I forgot. Please forgive me. I'll never say it…" Before she could finish her statement, a white flash sweeps across her vision, followed by a stinging pain in her left cheek. The pain is almost unbearable. It starts to pulse, little by little, but enough for her to feel it. She knew this day was coming. He's finally done the one thing she has always feared. As these thoughts swirl inside her mind, she begins to feel like she's losing it. She tries to get up but her legs won't allow it. Before she can figure it out, her face hits the floor, darkness surrounds her, unable to resist any longer, she shuts her eyes and lets go .

Hours pass before she finally comes to. The pain of earlier is still fresh in her mind. She tries to get up and off of the floor, but her strength hasn't returned to her yet. She notices that it's night time already, and she is completely alone.

"Tony?" She calls for him but no one answers. She continues to wait for her strength to come back, at the same time thinking about her life; or whatever life she has left. "Where did it all go wrong?" She ponders as she remembers the first time she met Tony. Her eyes focusing on the dust build up near the ceiling fan, she begins to uncover the memory that was hidden deep within her subconscious. Her eyes begin to feel heavy, she dozes off. The darkness surrounding her once again.

It was a such a clear day, not a cloud in sight. It was a bit warmer than normal, but I preferred it like that. I was working as a secretary for a small law firm, climbing my way up the corporate ladder, one promotion after another.

"You did it again, my dear. If we keep winning cases like this one and you'll see your name in front of the building one day." Mr. Floren boasted as he gave me a hug. Frank Floren was the nicest man I had ever met. He was a portly man who did not care nor try to hide it. He also assisted me when I was working to become a lawyer myself. He would let help with some of the cases even though I was only his secretary. He would do everything for me. If I needed money for lunch or just a someone to talk to, Mr. Floren didn't hesitate.

"Please, sir. It was nothing. There's no need to thank me." I insisted.

"Nothing? If you hadn't had gone over the book and found that long forgotten loop hole, our client would be facing thirty years in the pen. You saved a life today, be proud and relish in the moment. In the meantime, did Mr. Thornton ever call back in regards to his injury claim for the accident? I think we have a very strong case here." He asked me while he began looking over his notes.

"Not yet, sir. If I remember Mr. Thornton, he'll give us a call fifteen minutes before we close. That's what he did the last two times so don't worry. He'll call." I assured him.

"Alright, then. If you say so. Well now, isn't it time for you to go to lunch? I hear the restaurant across the street has salad that is to die for, not that I would ever find out." He let out a laugh that shook his entire body.

"I'll just have to eat some for the both of us then." I gave him a quick wink. "Okay, then. I'll be back in an hour. I'm going to take some of the case notes for the Thornton-Cashern suit with me, just to give them a quick look over for you. If you don't mind that is?"

"Not at all. If you keep helping me out like this, you'll definitely become a lawyer in no time." He handed me the notes and I was off to the restaurant.

I headed across the street to the Ravilier. It was a new restaurant that opened up a few months ago. I've been there twice already and each time, I had the best food I've ever eaten. I made it to the other side and in my hesitation to look over the notes, I missed the curb and fell forward. The papers went flying all around me as I put my arms out to catch myself. I looked all around and saw papers everywhere. I was mortified. I quickly tried to scramble all the papers together, but one had eluded me, caught in a gentle breeze that took it down the side walk. I went chasing after it, putting all my focus on recovering the piece of paper, making sure to snatch it before the wind came and took it for another ride. I dove for it, hands outstretched, but before I could slip it in my fingers, someone else had beat me to it. I looked up to see this rugged looking man holding a vital piece of information in his hands.

"I believe this is yours." He put his hand forward.

"Oh my god, thank you so much. I would have been in so much trouble if I lost even a single page." I told him. As I stood up, I was able to get a better look at him. He looked like he was around my age, his face was full of stubble, looking as if he hasn't shaved in a few days. He was standing next to a hotdog vendor, wearing a white t-shirt and denim that had patches of muck and grime all over. When I looked up into his eyes, I felt something in the pit of my stomach. It was almost as if fate stepped in and arranged for all this to happen.

"Oh, it was no problem. I was just a about to grab a hotdog when an angel laid before me." He smiled and looked into my eyes again. I stood there powerless. I knew at this moment that he was the one, the one I knew I would spend the rest of my life with.

"Oh, well I was just on my way to eat myself. Please join me, it'll be my treat. It's the least I can do since you basically saved my life." I managed to stand up and compose myself.

"I would love that. My name is Tony, by the way. I'm going to go ahead and guess your name is serendipity." He chuckled as he put his arm out, waiting for my response. I was speechless, I couldn't believe this was happening to me. It truly felt like a dream come true.

That was three years ago.

Over time, we had fallen in love with one another. It was the best time of my life, he treated me like a queen. He surprise me with everything from sending me a bouquet of roses on valentine's day to taking me to my favorite restaurant on my birthday. But at the same time, his demeanor began to change as well. It was subtle at first, he stopped holding doors for me or just sent me a single rose for valentine's day. This year, he didn't even send me one. His attitude had also changed. He wasn't as sweet as he was when we first went out. Shortly after, he made me quit my job and forgo my studies into becoming a lawyer. Mr. Floren called me a fool when I gave him my notice. I told him I didn't care because I was in love. He gave me a hug on my last day and his business card. He told me if I ever needed someone to talk to or needed help, to contact him. Tony found his card and ripped it up, saying he's the only one I needed to talk to. Being in love, I just went with it. As the months passed, things only became progressively worse but I failed to see it. My eyes were blind to the fact, to the horror that was to come, until it was too late.

She finally awoken to the sound of a door slamming. It was Tony returning home. He walked in the bedroom to find her laying on the floor. "Are you still asleep? Damn, you're lazy today. I bet you didn't even cook dinner. Now what am I supposed to eat?" He scolded her.

She looked up at him, that pain in her cheek now a bruise that will always remind her what would happen if she defied him again. "You don't even care anymore, do you? You can't see that I'm hurt from a pain that you caused."

"Correction, you caused. You're the reason I had to do that to you. And you want to talk about caring, what about me? I work all day, trying to support us and all I expect in return is some dinner and a little respect but I guess that's too much for somebody like you. Perhaps I'll just go look for somebody else that can satisfy my needs." He gave her a smug look that sent a pain to her chest.

"Please… please don't say that. I love you so much. I don't know what you want from me. I try to please you as much as I can." She begs and pleads. "I don't understand why you treat me like this."

He moves toward her, kneeling down, and gently lifting her chin to face him. He looks into her eyes and softly speaks, "It's simple, honey. I own you. You'd be nothing without me. I am all you have now. I'm the one that has to support your lazy ass, so why don't you go into the kitchen and make me something to eat?" He lets go of her chin and she falls to the ground sobbing.

"I don't deserve this, I do nothing but love you." Her voice barely audible through her crying.

"You don't deserve this? I'll tell you what you deserve." Tony proceeds to reach for his belt, pulling it to have it release from his denim jeans. He looms over her as the tension in the air fills the room. "Look what you're going to make me do." He raises the belt above his head and proceeds to force it downwards. It strikes her in the back, causing her to cry out. She pleads with him, hoping that he'll stop.

"Please, Tony… I'm sorry for what I did. Please… Just stop what you're doing and let me go." She wraps her arms around his leg, but he just pushes her away.

"Let you go?" His teeth grinds as his temper rises, "I'm not holding you here. What do you think I am, some kind of monster?" His fingers tighten around the belt, nails digging into his hand. He raises his arm once again to deliver a beating he believes is justified. "I told you that if you just listened to me, we wouldn't be in this situation. All I wanted was for you to understand. Even if it means I have to beat it into you." Tony lashes out at her again, but this time, he strikes her in the face. She screams out, as blood runs down her cheek.

"Please… for the love of god, stop this!" She yells as she covers her face. "I don't know what I did to you. I love you so much Tony. I don't understand why you are doing this to me. I've done nothing but give you my heart and my love." Her words go unnoticed as they start to meld with her crying, causing them to become unintelligible. She can't take it anymore. She was spent, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She's on the brink of instability, the edge of insanity, and the fringe of instability. She doesn't know what to do anymore, she's never felt more vulnerable in her life

"You never fucking listen! No matter how many times I tell you, over and over again. But this time… this time, I'll make sure you remember." as he lifts his arm to deliver a another painful blow, she screams at the top of her lungs. He freezes in his place, stunned by her voice. She takes this opportunity to lunge forward, knocking him off of his feet.

"I can't take this anymore!" She rushes for the front door. Tony grabs for her legs, barely clutching to her left foot. She falls to the ground, just a few feet away from the door but she doesn't let the setback deter her. She uses her free foot to kick him in the face, causing his grip to lessen. She repeats her actions until she is able to get back up. She finally makes it to the door, a turn of the doorknob away from freedom, and she doesn't hesitate. She rushes out, the concrete under her bare feet is freezing cold but she doesn't care. Her feet never stops moving. She can hear him yelling out, yelling for her to come back but she's too focused on escaping. She gets to the end of the block before his words finally breaks through, "Babe, I love you!" Those three words cause her to stop her in her tracks. She falls to her knees, tears running down her bruised cheeks. You can see the weariness and confusion in her face. She feels this sharp pain in her chest and just as he expected, his words cut very deep.

"Come back, honey. Let us put all this behind us and start over. I love you so much." He starts to make his way towards her. She becomes distraught with everything that's happened today. It all feels like a very disturbing nightmare to her. She wishes she could just close her eyes and the next thing she sees is him laying in bed with her right beside him, but she knows the next thing she'll see is the cold concrete she's kneeling on. She just wants to escape from all this, this living nightmare, and she knows the only way she can accomplish this is if she gets back up and never look back. He continues to make his way towards her, yelling her name in a condescending tone he used on her earlier when he was berating her and making her feel like she was worthless. She continues to tune him out as she attempts to rise up to her feet and leave for good, but with each step Tony took, it was becoming apparent that she couldn't resist.

He continues to yell at her, "Babe! Get back in the house. You're just making a fool out of yourself." He's nearly there, only five feet away from her.

"Go away! Just leave me alone!" She screams back at the top of her lungs. peering eyes begin to appear in the windows of their neighbors, curious to what was happening outside of their homes. She closes her eyes and focuses on moving forward, finding the strength that she didn't realize she had hours ago. She quickly stands, no longer touching the continually freezing sidewalk. Her legs slowly gain momentum as she puts one in front of the other. She feels herself fill up with confidence, her pain fading away with each step, but that feeling didn't last much longer. Before she knew it, she felt a hand grip her shoulder. "Got you." A menacing smile comes across his face, and a look of sheer terror across hers. She wants to scream but she only looks down and is surprised to see her hand is balling up into a fist. She knows what she has to do, if she wants to escape and regain her life and freedom. Without hesitating, without even thinking, she closes her eyes and lets her arm take over. She feels the weight of her fist as she swings her body and turns, putting everything she's capable of into it, and makes contact. She not only feels the impact, but hears the sound of his jaw being dislocated. Blood soon starts running down the side of his mouth and begins to drip off his chin. He howls as he buries his face into the earth. The look on her face doesn't show compassion anymore, only the look of a person who has finally had enough. She manages to make it on her feet and finally run off, ending this nightmare for all.

Bruised and sore, she makes it far enough for her to feel safe, for the time being. Making her way into the city, she walks between two abandoned buildings and sets herself down to rest. She couldn't believe what she had done. To her, it was the unthinkable, to hold such power within herself seemed ludicrous. As if she has discovered this newfound talent and was about to become a superhero, or someone who's just discovered magic for the first time and doesn't really know what to do with it. It feels strange to her, so unfamiliar yet exhilarating. Her excitement quickly vanishes as her smile slowly fades away, leaving only a vacant stare. She's feel happy, as she should given the events of what had just transpired moments earlier, yet feels as though something is missing. Something she can't quite explain. She begins to clutch her heart, trying to pinpoint exactly why it is she's feeling this way. Her hollow heart aching for what should belong, "Why... Why do I feel so empty? I should be happy right now, but my heart won't allow it." She questions her own body. Her mind is racing trying to find the answers her heart won't deliver. As she ponders this, the stench of the alleyway was starting to become apparent. Cold and lonely, she looks around but finds trash and the occasional rats feasting on people's throwaways. She tries fervently to block the alleyway and only focus on what truly matters. Her hearts ache's once again, this time causing her to lurch forward and grasp the ground as well as her chest. Her eyes clench shut as the pain reverberates within her ribcage. It becomes almost unbearable as she reaches her breaking point, but as she's writhing in agony, she has a moment of clarity. She gasps, "I know what I'm missing." Tears begin to race down her cheeks as she realizes what she must do.

Waking up to a very sore jaw, Tony slowly returns to the house, limping along the way. He opens the door, goes the kitchen and retrieves a beer out the fridge. Holding the crisp, cold bottle up to his chin, he lets out a sigh of relief. He makes his way to the living room to rest on the plush recliner. He takes the bottle, making sure to slowly and carefully open it with his sore hands, and takes a nice big gulp. The foamy liquid rushes down his throat, taking all the pain he received tonight melt away, causing him to sink even further into the chair. As he takes in the last drop, he tosses the beer on the floor, and the golden elixir quickly courses through his bloodstream. He begins to stare off into the distance, a smile slithers across his face. He holds his hand out in front of him, "You'll be back." He chuckles, "I have what you most desire, the one thing you gave me willingly." Just then an orb, no larger than a pearl, appears in the palm of his hand. It gives off a pinkish hue, pulsing at a steady beat, quite like a heartbeat, the pinkish glow grows more intensely, his body basking in the pink orb. "You will always be mine." He closes his hand, encapsulating and preventing the glow from emanating through. He then brings it closer to his chest and absorbs the pulsing pink orb, laughing maniacally. As he calms himself down from his fit, he sighs one more time, descends even further into the recliner and utters one word from his cracked and bruised lips.