I think the whole day just chipped away at him until he was in a headspace he could not escape. By the time I walked up the steps to the door he was too far gone to be honest and too angry to see reason. I should have left then, but I don't like to leave them like that, any of them, including Caleb.
He reached out, pulling me through the door, putting me down inside, his lips locked on mine, tearing his suitjacket off while he kicked the door closed with his leg. He couldn't get the jacket off. He finally gave up, with it still mostly inside-out and hanging off one arm. He wrapped his arms around me, lifting me back up, walking me backwards all the way across the room and down the hall, stumbling but never letting go, still kissing me every step of the way.
He dropped me on the bed, pulling the jacket off at last, letting it fall to the floor. His tie followed. Cufflinks next. Belt. He unbuttoned his shirt and then stopped, staring at me. I was leaning up on my elbows watching him. He is glorious, unhinged and rattled. Desperate even. He looks violent, unsure and determined all at once. Until we tip that balance to the dark I'll enjoy his vulnerability while he displays it. Then we'll trade places.
He steps closer and bends down, hooking his fingers under one strap on my dress and sliding it down off my shoulder. Then the other strap. My arms are pinned. Abruptly he lifts me by the hips and turns me over, face down into the quilt. He cuts the dress off me with scissors. I protest and he clamps his hand over my mouth.
His head is pressed next to mine and he tells me not to say a word unless it's a safe one. He squeezes my face to get a response and I nod under duress. When I whimper he kisses my hair and lets go again. Cutting fabric once more and my favorite babydoll that he chose for me is in pieces. He inhales sharply, running the point of the scissors down my spine. I can feel the trembling in his hand, his efforts to be human instead of monstrous, his failed attempts to make me comfortable instead of scared, his need to make me last when he would prefer to cut me to pieces too. He puts the scissors down and presses his hand flat against my flesh, pressing me down until I can no longer breathe and then he lets go and I gasp for air. I feel him fight his demons in the dark, his face changing as it remains pressed against my head.
Then a ribbon slides slowly around my neck. He pulls it up over my eyes and ties it tightly in a bow against my hair. I try to claw it off and he pins my fingers together in his hand and orders me not to touch it. He asks for confirmation that I understand and I nod. He asks if I will be good and I shake my head. No. I won't. I am brought into the dark, into hell, in an exquisite rush of blinding need. I am left shaking and ruined after many hours, and he asks again.
Will you be good for me now, Bridget?
He sighs and lifts me up once more, leading me away from the warm sheets, toward the cold wall. I am turned to face him and pressed against the bookcase.
Abruptly he walks away. I stand and wait. When he comes back I feel him take my hair up in one hand and I cry out, I know what he's doing but it's too late. The scissors slice through my hair.
This is control.
Lochlan loves my hair and now Caleb has taken it away. His brief victory overwhelms him as his emotions escape, a torrent of anguish and rage.
I say the only word I think he'll hear. I breathe it but he doesn't react. The word comes out in a yell from deep inside me suddenly and everything stops. He hears it. He lets go and then he changes his mind, reaching for my hand. He takes it and turns away, and I am led down the hall to the bathroom. He turns on the shower, still holding my hand and stands there staring at it, his hand in the spray until it is hot enough. Then he ducks us inside, where he stands with his eyes closed while the water beats down on our heads relentlessly. He brings his hands up and touches my hair, unleashing a new wave of sorrow that weighs him down until he is sitting down against the shower wall, knees up, head down. I get down in front of him and put my hands on his face. I kiss his forehead. Shhhh. His face relaxes. He orders me to forgive him. I tell him I do and he says not for today, not for right now but for everything.
I stand up and he raises his hands toward me, begging me to let him off the hook and I can't. I can forgive him in theory but not in practice and he's never going to have more than what he has now. Enforced compliance, fleeting touch. Temporary custody. A fantasy that disappears the moment the sun conquers the horizon.
I shake my head and he yells my name in frustration. I reach up to touch my hair and he stands and pulls my hands back down. He doesn't let them go, he doesn't move.
Be mine, he instructs. I close my eyes. Please, he begs, trying a different angle. It was supposed to get better, Bridget and it just keeps getting worse. I can't live without you anymore. I won't live without you.
Only if you turn out not to be the only monster left.
He slumps back against the wall in surprise. I watch the emotions on his face. I watch them like a flip book playing a movie on the corners of the pages. Acceptance. Fight. Denial. Regret. Fear. Resignation. Adoration. Rage. They are shuffled out of order and the steam from the hot water is obscuring my brain as we continue to stand there with the water pounding down on the tops of our skulls. I want to be out. I want to be dry. I want to be away from him. I want to come here not on his terms but on my own. I want him to be without strings attached and conditions and demands and threats. I want peace of mind and I want guarantees that he won't die before I'm good and ready but I want him to stay where I keep him, in my darkest dreams and not out here in simple daylight to complicate things more than they already are.
I know I can't have my cake and eat it too. I know that a huge part of him wants to treasure me and the rest wants to punish me. We share the same feelings toward each other. I can't reconcile this any better than he can.
He reaches out suddenly and pulls me in against him, resting his head on my shoulder. Biting it, breaking the skin, tearing me apart. I bear it. I do nothing. I don't say safe words or anything else. I just stand there and let him symbolically eat me alive.