“See, Noelle? There's nothing to worry about; she's not even here,” Seamus reassured her. It didn't even smell as if Lavender had been at home for supper. No aroma of meat or vegetables cooking enveloped him like a warm blanket. Of course, he hadn't expected it; he was usually on his own for dinner. Awkwardly, Noelle followed him into his house. Her eyes looked over the main room. She paused at the kitchen and smiled. If she was anything like his mother, her dream kitchen consisted of the granite counter tops that he had.
“Your house is...beautiful,” she stuttered, causing Seamus to laugh. He took her traveling cloak off of her shoulders and hung it up alongside his on the wooden peg he had put in the wall specifically for this use. Taking her hand, he dragged her up the stairs. If he had to see her in that wretched sweater one last time, he was sure to vomit. Surprising even himself, he kissed her again. This time, he took her face in his hand and pulled her close to his body.
“Seamus,” she whispered. Her voice and the way she held her body was helpless yet hopeful. She allowed her hands to linger in his hair as he kissed her cheek, stopping where the top of her turtle neck sweater cut at her chin. He moved his face away from hers and simply watched her. There was nothing special about the way she was standing, but he watched purely for reaction. She seemed confused, as though her heart was telling her to do one thing and her head another. The confusion must have gotten to her, for she sat down on the bed and rested her head in her hands in a frustrated manner.
“I can't do this,” she said, looking up at him as tears began to streak her cheeks. As though it would stop her from crying, Seamus sat on his knees in front of her and kissed her. She didn't pull away or resist; it was as though she wanted him to kiss her. Her hands tangled in his hair as he stood up, pulling her along with him. As he slid his hands under her sweater, he had to pull away. On her stomach, he felt cuts and soft spots that weren't naturally supposed to be soft. Once it clicked in Noelle's mind that he felt something she didn't want him to feel, she closed her eyes and tilted her head to the side and down.
“What the hell's that?” Seamus demanded angrily. Someone was hitting her that hard? She could...she could die from someone hitting her that hard in her abdomen! His mind raced furiously; no one should be subjected to that pain and suffering. The reality suddenly hit: his job wasn't created to give someone something to do. It was for people like Noelle to be helped.
“I can't leave him,” she wept, opening her eyes again and looking at him. The sorrow on her features was painstaking. It made Seamus hurt as well from the fear and hurt in her eyes.
“You...you have to! You're going to die!”
“That's just it, Seamus!” She threw her hands in the air to add to the effect. Taking a deep breath she gestured for him to sit down. This scared him; if he needed to sit down to hear whatever it was that she was going to tell him, he did not want to hear it. It would be even more horrible than concluding what happened in her personal life.
“Darren will kill me if I leave him. He told me that six months ago; that's why I don't have a choice. He said that he'll kill my parents and sisters if he can't find me. My family doesn't deserve that, Seamus. If anyone deserves it, it's me. I'm the one who didn't leave him when he first started yelling at me all the time and threatening me frequently. Before, he just said terrible things about me. He'd call me names and threaten to make sure I didn't go anywhere but work. When he realized words weren't enough to control someone, he started physically hurting me.”
Seamus was speechless for once in his life and the reason wasn't the fact that she was threatened death if she left her boyfriend. It was the fact that she thought she deserved murder for what she'd gotten herself into. Looking at her he could see that she wasn't finished talking. With her sleeve, she was wiping away the make up on her face. Every time a layer of make up came off, he gasped. When all of the cover up was gone he could feel his eyes watering with anger and remorse.
“I got this two days ago,” she said, not looking at him.
“I wanted to go see my oldest sister and I didn't ask him if I could. When I came home later in the evening he was waiting for me. First, he yelled at me for being gone all day and not telling him. Then the real violence started. Some of the bruises are gone, but I can't get rid of this one.” She smiled wistfully. “I suppose I deserve this. I've always been shy, quiet, and a follower. I should have known.” Her laugh was regretful and sorrowful. Shaking her head in disbelief at her own stupidity, she looked at Seamus.
“Well,” he said, “I'm speechless for once in my life.” Though he intended it to lighten the mood, it didn't work on either of the two. Noelle sighed sadly and took Seamus's hand in hers. He was a bit surprised by the act of affection but pleased. Perhaps she returned his feelings.
“I want out so badly, but living my life and letting my family live is so much more important to me. That's why I have to marry him.”
His jaw dropped. There was no fathomable way that he was going to allow Noelle to marry someone like Darren. Then there was no way that she'd live for more than a week. He didn't even want to imagine him forcing her to sleep with him. That was simply wrong.
“You don't know how lucky you have it, Seamus. You can leave without knowing that someone will die as a result of it.”
He still didn't see it. If he left, he'd lose his first love and that scared the hell out of him. No, Lavender didn't really care about him but she was his...his comfort zone. The other side was that he was having an affair with Noelle which was also wrong. His eyes met Noelle's and she looked at him with longing and hope. She rested her head on his shoulder and hugged his arm to her. Though frail, her body was warm and comforting to him.
“You're lucky,” she repeated quietly.
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