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Posted by missmikan , 19 December 2017 · 298 views

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***BASED ON A TRUE STORY***

***THE SCENES DEPICTED IN THIS WRITING ARE NOT ALL INCLUSIVE AND MAY VARY***

***ASSAULT IS NOT GENDER SPECFIC AND CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE***



Evelynn opened the door to her apartment only to find hundreds of roses. Rose petals on the floor, bouquets on every table she owned, and petals down the hallway into her room and onto her bed. They were everywhere. A strong feeling of dread welled in her stomach; she knew where the flowers came from and she didn't like it. She'd spent almost a year successfully hiding and now he'd found her.

She stood in the doorway, frozen, fully aware that he was still in her apartment, somewhere, just waiting for her to walk in. She couldn't move. She felt his presence the way the wind blew; all encompassing. As she held her breath, she stepped forward into her apartment, needing to remind herself how to walk. 'One foot in front of the other.' She set her purse on the rose petal covered couch and kept going with the knowledge of this never-ending hell propelling her forward.

Evelynn stopped in the doorway to her dark bedroom. Other than the hundreds of roses and rose petals, the only evidence that he was there was the gentle breathing coming from her right. She held her breath and gripped her phone a little tighter as he turned to face her.

'Evelynn, darling, I miss you. Come lay in bed with me and forget all this leaving me nonsense.'

Evelynn looked at him as though he'd grown another head. She took a deep breath, looked him in the eye, and said, 'I thought you hated me. At least that's how you made it seem when I left.'

Now it was his turn to look baffled. He stared at her, not knowing what made her think that.

'No but I want to be in a relationship with you. I guess you don't want that though since you're the one that left me. I wish you'd come cuddle me. I don't see why you wouldn't unless you're in a relationship, which you're not, so I'm not sure why you freaked out. Let's do something for Valentine's Day since neither of us have ever done anything for it. You showed all the signs that you wanted to try with me and then you just leave? It's breaking my heart. I can't sleep, can't eat, can't anything.'

'Jax, I'm just so afraid of getting hurt again. Believe it or not, leaving you hurt me too.'

With that response, he quickly turned away from Evelynn and angrily stalked into her dining room, where rose petals followed him. She followed behind him and what she hoped was a safe distance and waited. He looked at her with an intense fire behind his ocean blue eyes that she'd never seen before.

'What do you mean 'get hurt AGAIN'?! What made your decision; what made you leave? Because things were going so well and you just leave? Tell me what really happened. Let's please do something tomorrow since you don't have work anyways.'

'I can't. I have plans tomorrow,' was the only thing she responded with.

'What plans do you have with someone else that you can't see me tomorrow? Are you going somewhere to see someone? Why did you think it was a good idea for us to stop talking after all the love and emotion you showed me, Evie? Tell me how that's fair.'

Surprised at the audacity of what he just said, Evelynn slowly turned to walk into the kitchen. She'd had a long day at work and the last thing she'd wanted when she got home was to see Jax. She poured a glass of her favourite sparkling pink wine before saying anything to him. What she finally replied with surprised him.

'I actually do work tomorrow and after that, I'm going to see a movie with Shantelle. That was what I was going to do, because, even though it's been eight months, I haven't been able to stop thinking about what happened and how afraid I was. I don't ever want to be that afraid of another human being ever again in my life.'

'You said you wanted to try and make this work, so do you or not? You're overthinking about it again.'

'No, I'm really not overthinking about this. You used to always tell me you hated me and I was constantly afraid of you. I don't want to be afraid anymore Jax.'

His expression softened. Evelynn could tell that what she said had finally sunk in. He understood what she said. Whether or not he cared she didn't know. All she knew was that she'd hit a chord and that was good enough for her.

With a saddened expression and a voice like a whisper, Jax said, 'please Evie. Please. We were doing so well and now you're telling me off. Do you have any idea how heartbroken I have been, how heartbroken I still am? Please, let's just talk like we used to. I don't understand what I had done for you to turn such a cold shoulder to me. We were so affectionate before. Where'd it come from? Was it someone else that made you change your mind about us? I think I have a right to know what happened don't I?'

Evelynn was furious. 'Why does it have to be someone else that changed my mind? What is it in your head that makes you think I can't make my own decisions? I'm a big girl Jax. I know how to decide things for myself but thanks anyways. Now, will you stop accusing everyone else for me deciding to leave?'

'Okay cool, so are we going to try to make things work or what? We could fix this right now if you wanted to. Because honestly, things were going so well for us.'

'Well, maybe I'll come by later but for now, I don't know and I need you to leave. I can't decide if you're standing here constantly harassing me about it and I need space. I've stayed away from you for so long, you can't just walk into my apartment unannounced when I'm not even home and expect everything to be fine.'

Finally after escorting Jax out of her apartment, Evelynn needed to lie down. Her head was pounding from the shock of seeing him there. Knowing there was a mess of rose petals that needed to be put in trash bags and taken out, she walked into her room, pulled the covers off her bed, and laid down.

Hours that felt like seconds passed when the alarm on her phone sounded. Evelynn looked at the time; 4:30 am just like every other morning. She was supposed to think about what Jax had said last night but had instead slept through the entire night. Well, she thought to herself, time for work. Get up and go and then you can come home and get ready for your movie with Shantelle tonight and forget about it all until tomorrow.

She climbed out of bed and started to get ready for work. She threw her hair into a tight bun on top of her head, put her uniform on, brushed her teeth, and smudged eyeliner around her deep brown eyes

As she got to work, her phone rang in her pocket. An email, which upon further inspection, and reading of the email, Evelynn noticed that Jax still wanted to see her.

'I don't work today so you should come over in a few minutes before you go to your movie and cuddle with me.'

'So much for being able to forget about it until tomorrow,' muttered Evelynn as she clocked in for her early morning shift.

'Hey!' Shantelle said far too cheerily for the early morning drudge that surrounded them. Then, when she saw the look on her friends face, 'what's going on? Are you okay?'

Evelynn rolled her eyes, looked at her best friend, and said, 'it's nothing. Just Jax. He showed up at my place last night before I got off work and my entire apartment is still covered in the rose petals and bouquets he left everywhere because I haven't cleaned it yet. I can't even see the floor or my table tops. I don't know how he found me Shantelle.'

Shantelle's face fell. She didn't know what to say. For the first time since Evelynn had known her, Shantelle wa speechless. She finally met Evelynn's eyes with a sad defeated expression.

'Evie, I'm so sorry. I don't even know what to say.'

'I don't know what happened. He wasn't supposed to be able to find me; that was why we moved and changed my phone number. He's trying to get me to come over right now and I haven't said anything to him because I really don't want to see him but I'm so scared of what will happen if I say no.'

Evelynn looked at her friend with an indescribable terror behind her eyes that she couldn't mask and said, 'I need to respond to this email though. He knows where I live and I can promise he'll show up at my apartment and keep me from going to the movie if I don't respond.'

She sighed and started to type out a message that read, 'Jax, you may not work today but, I'm already at work and I told you that I have a movie with Shantelle tonight so it's not likely I'll be able to come over later.'

He replied almost instantly. Evelynn sighed once more knowing this wasn't going to be over anytime soon. She opened the email as Shantelle walked behind her with the ice tub and read it aloud.

'Okay so, why can't you early in the morning tomorrow? You used to always love to cuddle in the mornings.'

She knew this wasn't going to be an easily won battle and it scared her. Evelynn took a deep breath, reread the email and responded with what she hoped was reasonable enough to get her out of being harassed into going to his house instead of the movie with her best friend.

'I do love to cuddle in the morning but that doesn't mean that I can just drop everything else I have to do tomorrow just so I can have a moment of what I want. I have a crazy busy week, and likely won't even have a minute to come over and see you. I have to work until six, the tomorrow Shantelle has physical therapy right before I go into work, and then we have our movie tonight. I will not have time.

Immediate response. Of course. She should have known after all. It was always one of his traits to respond immediately when he wanted something from her.
'Why do you have to go to physical therapy with her? To drive her? Can't she drive herself? Have you gone on any dates with anyone in the past few months since we've been apart?'

Evelynn avoided the last question by only answering the one that she wanted to.

'I'm going simply because she asked me if I would. Simple as that.'

As she put her phone into her apron pocket, Shantelle walked into the drink room and said, 'looks like everything is done so now we have twenty minutes to sit at a table and figure out why Jax is here and won't leave you alone. Tell me everything.'

They walked into the small interior of the restaurant and sat at the table closest to them. The dim lighting and empty dining room made the early morning feel like late at night. With opening being the ungodly hour of 5:30 in the morning, they weren't supposed to use the lights until late at night and absurdly dark outside. The old chairs creaked as they sat down just like they did when anybody else tried to sit.

Evelynn pulled out her phone to read yet another email from Jax. Shantelle looked at her with a pointed expression as she read it before she said, 'well tell me what it says! I want to know what's going on too.'

Evelynn startled at the sound of her voice. Instead of reading it aloud, she showed her the email that read, 'okay....when is her appointment? When does she have class? Is there any other way we could message each other?'

Shantelle looked at her in shock.

'Who does he think he is?! He can't just show up here and expect you to forgive him of every wrong he ever did. There's nothing you can do about the fact that he hurt you and you need to tell him that. Don't give him your phone number or you know he won't leave you alone about anything ever again and you'll just cave and start seeing him again. Just reply and don't answer the question about whether or not you could message each other a different way.'

She turned he phone back to herself and started typing out a response that included the time of Shantelle's physical therapy and class. All the email read was, 'appointment at nine, class at eleven.'

Shantelle looked at her friend with a sadness in her bright green eyes that Evelynn had never seen before. She was worried about her best friend getting hurt but couldn't find the words to tell her. She stuck with what she knew and said, 'look Evie, I know you're scared of him but you really shouldn't be talking to him at all. You know it's just going to hurt you more in the long run.'

Evelynn looked at her phone and sighed. She knew she shouldn't be talking to him but the fear of what may happen if she stopped was the only thing that kept her responses going. She looked at her phone again and watched it light up with a new email from Jax, who, of course, wasn't going to let her off that easy. Evelynn read it aloud so Shantelle knew what was happening too.

'Okay...so you'll be here at like 11:30 and we'll just keep everything casual between us like nothing happened okay?'

Shantelle looked at her and sighed. She knew there would be a response to the email that was just opened. She knew there would be more heartache, and she knew Evelynn wouldn't be able to stop talking to him solely because of the fear he impressed into her mind so early on.

As Evelynn clicked the reply button, she felt a sudden knot in her stomach. She typed out the reply anyway and slowly glanced up at her friend. She knew Shantelle didn't agree with her even though she never said anything.

She slowly typed out a reply that read, 'J, I don't actually want sex...'

Again there was an instant reply. Shantelle looked at her and simply said, 'don't even bother with it. Let's get back to work. We still have to open the damn place. We can deal with him later.'

Evelynn looked at her phone and read the most recent message that said, 'uhmm...okay...why? Why not? What's changed in the past two days, when it was going so well?'

By the time she looked up, Shantelle was long gone, unlocking the front door and seating the large group they always had for Sunday breakfast. Even though the hour was early and the sun was just barely rising she felt a new sense of energy as more people walked into the restaurant.

Getting up from the table she was sitting at, she approached the very first table that had walked in the door; her regulars she counted on every Sunday as soon as they opened.

Already feeling the weight of the events that had played out that morning, she walked up to say hi to the rather large party of women waiting at the table. They knew immediately that something was wrong and didn't hesitate to ask her.

'Evie, honey, what's wrong? You look like you just saw a ghost,' is how she was greeted by Anita, the sweet lady she had always thought of as a grandmother figure although she was probably only about fifty.

Evelynn only vaguely heard her question as she was transported back to when she was with Jax; back to when they celebrated his 21st birthday.

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He was so excited for that night. For the night he could finally drink alcohol legally; not that his age ever stopped him before.

His sister was having everyone over for dinner and drinks. The two of them left for her house by about 2:30 that afternoon. When they arrived, there were cars lined up and down the street.

As they walked up, Jax looked at her and said, 'Whitney said she made me a cake and wants me to see it before everyone else gets here.'

Evelynn looked at him in utter surprise. She didn't think there could be any more people coming.

'J, can she even fit any more people into her house? Who else is even coming?'

Just as Jax was about to reply, Whitney walked out the door and exclaimed, 'it's about time the two of you get here! Everyone has been worried about you guys! Didn't I tell you to be here at one? Oh well you're here now come see my cake, it's badass.'

Jax drug Evelynn into the kitchen to look at the cake with him and she reluctantly followed. As she walked into the kitchen, she ran directly into Jax, who had stopped in the middle of the doorway to admire his cake.

It was a rather small cake considering everyone that was there with more supposedly coming still. It was an eight inch round white cake with vanilla icing and sprinkles. Had she left it like that, it would have looked presentable but she added a plastic toilet to the top of it with a plastic action figure bent over the toilet throwing up into it; it seemed as though she had arranged the sprinkles to look like the vomit.

Evelynn was repulsed. But because Jax and Whitney seemed to genuinely love the cake, she put up a fa├žade and acted like she loved it too.

A couple hours later, Jax was six shots and four beers in.

'Jax are you okay? You don't look so great. Maybe you should have some water for a minute. You're worrying me.'

'Stop Evelynn, I'm fine,' he replied, words slurred together in a drunken state.

He immediately stood, wobbled on his feet, and stumbled into the bathroom rather ungracefully.

Evelynn felt a look of terror flash across her face and hurriedly relaxed. She hoped no one noticed.

She felt a gentle tug on her arm. When she turned around, she saw Whitney gesture for her to follow her into the spacious kitchen of her extremely modern house. Evelynn knew immediately her fear was seen.

'Evie, I saw that. What's wrong? He's still okay; it's only been a couple drinks,' said Whitney as soon as the door closed behind her and they were alone.

Evelynn couldn't help but feel herself being saddened by the fact that Whitney knew she was extremely worried and Jax didn't. She couldn't explain exactly why it was she felt like Jax didn't care but the feeling consumed her and she felt herself wanting to open up to Whitney and tell her everything she was worried about.

She could tell Whitney knew something was wrong. It was in the way she looked at Evelynn. She knew she was going to have to tell Whitney whether or not she wanted to. Whitney was the type of person that was very easy to talk to and always seemed to somehow get the things she wanted to know from people without them realizing what she was doing. Maybe it was the long, dark brown hair, or the eyes that were so dark it felt like they could read your mind but there was something that made it hard to keep anything to yourself when she was around.

'It's just that he always drinks more than he can handle, but because he's drunk, he thinks he can handle his alcohol, when in reality, he can't. He's much easier to anger and it scares me when he gets like that.'

Evelynn told her everything she was always afraid to say to Jax, and Whitney looked at her with an understanding Evelynn longed for from Jax.

'I know it scares you Evie, but he's an adult and you have to let him make his own choices. He's a good kid; he's not going to hurt you. He may get angry but trust me, he wouldn't hurt you. He loves you. He talks to me about you all the time. I promise you have nothing to worry about. Just let him drink tonight and you try and have a good time too. Everything will be okay.'

As Evelynn took a deep breath, she nodded, smiled, and turned to walk out of the kitchen. Whitney stopped her to wipe away the small smudge of mascara the puddled in the corner of Evelynn's eye as they started to water.

'Thanks Whit. For everything. You don't know how much it means to me that I can talk to you about things like this.'

'I'm here whenever you need anything. You have my phone number too so you can call or text me whenever. Don't think it's weird for you to talk to me about problems with Jax too. I love to listen and help as much as I can.'

They turned and walked back into the dining room where Jax had placed himself back at the table to take another shot. A shot he chased with a beer.

He looked even worse than he did before he stumbled into the bathroom. Evelynn knew something was wrong but she couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was. He seemed to be less himself than he was five minutes ago but Evelynn didn't say anything.

As the afternoon went on, Jax had more and more to drink and Evelynn began to wonder if he was intentionally avoiding her or if he just didn't realize he was doing it because he was so drunk. She tried to give him as much space as she could so he could enjoy his night but found it more and more difficult to be so isolated since she didn't know anyone other than Jax.

Evelynn started to wonder if Jax would turn into an alcoholic like so many of her family. She chased the thought away as quickly as it came; it was something she didn't want to believe as a possibility.

Suddenly Jax was by her side telling her to go outside with him so his dad could take a picture. Evelynn followed him outside into the blindingly bright light. She had almost forgotten it was the middle of the day with all the drinking and the dim lighting inside Whitney's house.

The two of them stood in the middle of the lawn as his dad took several pictures; just a Jax instructed. Finally, after what felt like hours to Evelynn but had probably only been about five minutes, they were done. To her surprise, Jax stayed close by.

They walked to the pool where most of his family was having drinks. As they got closer and Jax realized everyone was swimming, he pulled his shirt off, drunkenly stumbled into the pool, and tried to take Evelynn in with him.

Fighting to stay dry, she said, 'Jax, hold on, let me put by bikini on and I'll come back out. I can't get in fully dressed though.'

'Okay fine but hurry. I want to be with you but I also want to be out here drinking and having a good time with everyone.'

Evelynn hurried inside and changed as quickly as she could so she could go back outside and be with Jax. She liked that he wanted to be with her. She started to think that maybe if he was an alcoholic, it wouldn't be so bad because at least he would eventually want to spend as much time with her as he possibly could.

Once she had changed, Evelynn walked back outside but, before she got there, she saw Jax through the sliding glass door, smoking his first cigarette in almost three years.

Sadness pulled at the back of her mind. She knew something was wrong now. 'He never smoked before so why would he suddenly pick it up again?' Evelynn thought to herself. She looked out the window one last time before turning and going back to change into her street clothes.

Once she had changed for a second time, she walked into the living room where Jax was now sitting, seemingly unaware that he had just smoked his first cigarette in almost three years. It was strange to see him like that, so unaware of what he was doing and the people around him.

Evelynn made herself a drink and sat next to Jax. They sat in the large living room and talked with everyone for what felt like minutes but in reality was probably an hour.

As the sun started to set, everyone was eager to get up and see the sunset. There were few evenings in the little town of Hillsborough without a breathtaking sunset to see.

Looking at the sunset, Jax moved closer to Evelynn, leaned in, and kissed her on the cheek. She was surprised; Jax never kissed her when there were this many people around. She couldn't help but dread what was going to happen in the morning when he woke up extremely hung over.

After the sun had mostly set, everyone stayed outside on the patio to enjoy the gentle breeze from the warm ocean air. Whitney was sitting next to Jax but quickly stood when she saw Evelynn. Straddling the bench, she sat facing Jax so she would be able to talk with him. She felt like she hadn't seen him all night.

As they started talking, the dark sky made Evelynn feel tired. As she yawned, Jax put his finger in her mouth as he always did. This time though, he didn't move it like normal. As she caught herself, Evelynn pulled her head away and asked, 'why didn't you move your finger this time? I would have bit you and I don't want to hurt you.'

'Evelynn, I don't think you know how much pain I can handle. You biting me would not hurt.'

Jax reached up and tried to put his finger back in her mouth to show her a bite wouldn't hurt him. She was a little hesitant but eventually opened her mouth and let him. She slowly started to close her teeth around his finger and apply a slight pressure.

'Harder, I can handle the pain. Just bite me!'

Again she hesitated but did as she was told. She applied a little more pressure, then released her jaw.

'Jax, I don't want to hurt you. I'm not sure you realize what it is you're asking for. If I keep biting you harder and harder, you're going to get hurt. You don't realize what it is you're doing.'

He was angry now. Evelynn didn't want to hurt him, but she was more afraid that he would hurt her if she didn't listen. She slowly opened her jaw again, just enough for him to slide his finger between her teeth. She started biting again, gently at first, then slowly harder.

'Harder. Bite me harder you pussy!' Jax yelled and she finally gave up trying to keep him from getting hurt. She bit him. Hard.

He didn't react at first but Evelynn knew the exact moment it hurt him. His finger started to curl down and his nail dug into the soft palate under her tongue. She started to loosen her grip but the look on his face told her she'd be hurt if she let go. So, gently, she pressed even harder.

She was worried about drawing blood as his free hand reached up and grabbed at her long black hair at the base of her neck. As she unclenched her jaw and tried to get away from the grip that pulled at her head to go up and the grip on her jaw that pulled her head to go down, Jax tightened his grip on her hair as he pulled her jaw down.

Evelynn braced herself for the pain and turned her head to the side and pulled away. Finally free from the grasp Jax had her in, she looked to Whitney who saw the fear in her eyes and walked to the other side of the yard where she sat down alone.

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Evelynn was pulled out of her memories rather suddenly by her phone buzzing in her hand with what she knew was another email from Jax. She looked up at the group of her most favourite people in the world that, for the first time in what felt like forever, genuinely cared about her.

Anita finally broke the silence by saying, 'well, we all heard it, so are you going to read it Evie? Tell us what's going on.'

Evelynn looked at Anita for a minute before unlocking her phone and reading what the email said. She was dreading it, knowing he'd be angry that she didn't reply to the last one he sent.

As she read the email, another one buzzed in. The group of ladies, obviously curious to what was happening, looked at her expectantly. Finally giving in to the expectant eyes of the women she cared so deeply for, she read the messages aloud.

'Tell me the REAL STORY. Like, you never want sex...ever again?'

Every single woman sitting in front of her looked baffled. Finally Carol said, 'honey, why don't you go get us all some water, including yourself, and tell us what's going on.'

Evelynn looked around nervously as she went to get the waters to see if there were a lot of tables Shantelle was helping. Luckily, it was a rather slow morning for them and Shantelle only had one other customer to help. As she started filling glasses with ice, Shantelle came back to get the coffee Christopher always asked for.

Christopher was Shantelle's favourite part of Sunday mornings because, even though neither of them would admit to it, they both wanted to be with the other.

Reaching behind Evelynn's head for the biggest coffee cup they had in the restaurant, Shantelle looked at the tray Evelynn was putting full glasses on. As she counted them, she noticed the extra glass Evelynn hoped she wouldn't see.

'You know, you better be careful sitting with them. Vickie just put cameras up and she hates when we do that. The last thing you need right now is to lose your job over something as trivial as Jax being back. Because, while I understand it's a huge deal and crazy scary, Vickie wouldn't care.'

Evelynn looked at the glasses on her tray, then back to Shantelle and said, 'I know she doesn't like it but, she isn't about to fire me over something like that. Even if she was going to try, she knows that if she loses me, she loses you and she can't afford that. It's fine.'

Evelynn expertly put the tray of seven water glasses on her shoulder and started to walk away from the drink station they'd set up. She turned and looked behind her before going to sit down.

'Will you be alright if I sit with them for a while and tell them what's going on? They all know something out of the ordinary is happening. They've asked me about it about it at least three times now. I'll still be here; just come get me if it gets busy and you need my help.'

'Of course that's okay with me Evie. I know Jax showing up and finding you in this city is really hard and you're scared. If it gets busy and I need you, I'll call.'

After she placed the glasses on the table and pulled up another chair, she pulled out her phone to respond to him before starting her story.

Evelynn sighed down at her phone. She could already tell it was going to be a long day just by the way he was talking to her. She almost felt bad for him; he tried so hard to make her believe he would change but, Evelynn knew better than to believe him. He'd promise over and over to change only to go back to doing to exact same things he did before.

Unaffected by his emails, she typed out a response to him that read, 'this is the real story. I just don't want sex right now; I have other things to worry about.'

As she set her phone on the table, it lit up with a new email. She ignored it and began telling her table what happened the night before.

Once she had everyone caught up, she took a drink of water and braced herself for what the new email said. She stirred the strawberries and ice in her water as she put off opening it.

'Stop putting it off honey. You're going to have to read the damn thing eventually anyways. You may as well read it right now since we all want to know what it says too,' said Carol.

As she looked up from her water glass, Evelynn saw that every woman was looking at her phone, waiting to know what the email said. She looked back to her water and the strawberries floating at the top and wished she could shrink back into her chair.

She sighed and picked up her phone to read the email she'd left unopened about five minutes ago.

She took a deep breath, opened the email, and silently read it before she read it to everyone sitting in front of her.

'It says 'uh, okay. What in the hell do you have to worry about? When we cuddle and kiss, etc. - which we can for four hours before you go to work - we can have sex, make love, etc. and have all that affection. You were ALWAYS down for it before...what changed...?' He really doesn't know what changed?'

Her jaw dropped. Either he really didn't know what he'd done or he was really good at faking dumb. Evelynn, unfortunately, assumed it was the latter and he did in fact, know exactly what he'd done the first time.

After taking a couple of steadying breaths, she decided to reply to the email. She knew she shouldn't be doing it but she couldn't help it. She felt addicted to him in a way. Afraid of him, but addicted nonetheless.

She hoped no one noticed she was still talking to him as she typed out an email that read, 'I'm sorry okay? We'll see.'

She didn't want to have to explain to everyone why she was apologizing to him.

His reply was fast and short. A simple, 'what time will you be here.'

He'd said it like a statement, not a question. Like she didn't have a choice anymore and she had to go. Like if she didn't go, he was going to come for her.

She looked at her phone as though she were searching it for answers. Finding nothing but the passive aggressive email she just read, she decided to email him in short sentences to, hopefully, make him realize he was doing the very thing that made her leave in the first place.

She stirred the strawberries in her water again, took a drink and slowly started typing out a reply.

'I don't know.' Send. She took a deep breath. She knew she should get back to work but the gentle buzz that came from her phone on the wood table kept her there longer than she wanted to stay. But she had to see what this new email said.

She slowly opened the email to read, 'so at 10:00? Cause Shantelle's physical therapy is at 9:00?'

'Jax, I said I don't know.'

It seemed as though he were waiting for her to respond with how quickly he replied to her last email.

She read the obviously frustrated, 'well why don't you know? You have NOTHING to do after you're done with her therapy which ends at 10:00, then she goes to work or school...so why couldn't you?'

She ignored it and proceeded to get up for her order book and pen so she could get breakfast started for everyone.

As the ladies rattled off the usuals she'd memorized shortly after she'd started working there, she started to think about all the good times she'd had with Jax. She felt what she thought might be a longing to be with him again.

She received another email from Jax before she was completely consumed by her thoughts and a longing of familiarity.

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Suddenly she was back in Hillsborough driving home from the Sunday dinner at her parents. Her phone rang with the ringtone she'd designated for Jax when she pulled in the driveway of the house they lived in.

'Hey baby. I just pulled into the driveway, what's up?'

'Evie, baby, I miss you. Hurry inside and come cuddle with me.'

As soon as she got off the phone, Evelynn jumped out of her car ran inside, left her heels at the door, and crawled into bed next to Jax.

He wrapped his arms around her and she folded into his always warm embrace. There was something about Jax and the way he held her that always made her feel safe. Evelynn never thought Jax would hurt her. She looked up to see him smiling down at her.

'What are you smiling at?' She asked as she felt her cheeks get warm, the way they always did when he looked at her like that.

'I'm just thinking about how much I love you and wondering how I got lucky enough to have you. You're something special, you know that?'

She dropped her eyes as she felt her face get hot again. She never imagined loving someone the way she loved Jax.

Everything with Jax felt like it moved so quickly but still never felt like the wrong thing to do. Evelynn often thought about how things were between the two of them. It felt like something she could only ever dream of. They were best friends when they were out, but when they were at home and alone, he was more than she ever thought she could want. She knew without a doubt that he truly loved her.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Jax slowly running his hand up and down her arm and whispering, 'what are you thinking my love?'

'Oh, nothing of consequence. I'm just thinking about you and how much I love you. How I never thought I'd have what we have now.'

He looked at her with such deep adoration in his eyes when she said that. Something she knew was deeper than what she thought she felt for him.

In that moment, Evelynn knew she loved Jax more than she ever thought was possible to love another person In that moment, she knew Jax was the man she wanted to marry and start a family with. In that moment, everything in her life suddenly made sense.

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Evelynn wasn't given much time to think about all the good things that came with Jax before Shantelle was gently touching her arm, reminding her where she was.

She startled at the touch but quickly recovered and finished entering her order. As soon as she finished, Shantelle was tugging on her arm to pull her back to the drink station to, no doubt, give her the latest gossip on Christopher.

To her surprise, Shantelle seemed to be very concerned about something other than Christopher. Looking her friend over, she finally asked, 'what's going on Shantelle? I can tell there's something you're not telling me.'

Shantelle looked at her friend and sighed as though she were unsure whether or not she could say everything that was really on her mind. Finally giving in to the unrelenting gaze of her best friend, she said, 'I know you're hurting and I know you're scared because Jax is here but Vickie just called and said she was coming in to get the end of day reports from yesterday. You know she'll be pissed if she comes in and sees you sitting with your table staring off into never never land.'

Evelynn looked at her friend as though she were amazed Shantelle thought she couldn't tell her that.

Still stunned by the fact that her best friend didn't want to tell her their manager was coming in, Evelynn said, 'why didn't you tell me as soon as she called?!' She could feel what she thought was anger start to bubble in her stomach as she continued her thought.

'I could have helped you get everything ready for when she got here. I may have a lot going on right now but, I'm at work and that's my number one priority.'

Evelynn sighed in an attempt to calm herself down. She knew Shantelle had good intentions but couldn't help feeling like she was being treated like a child.

'E, look, I know how hard this is for you and I want to make this as easy for you as I can. So, if I can get things ready before Vickie gets here and all I have to do is tell you to get up, I'm going to do that. I could handle this day on my own but you know Vickie thinks I'm incompetent.'

In the very moment Evelynn was going to respond, Vickie walked in the door and, without saying a word, immediately handed each girl a list of chores they knew were expected to be finished by the end of the day.

'Why are the silvers not being folded?! Evelynn, you need to wake up! You shouldn't be sleeping when you're here; you need to be awake. You're never here when you're here.'

Evelynn didn't even have a chance to catch her breath before Vickie had made her way to the kitchen so she could try and tell the cooks what exactly it was they were doing wrong.

Relieved she no longer had to try and understand what Vickie was saying through her incredibly thick Filipino accent and extravagant hand gestures, Evelynn walked into the dining room in an effort to get as far away from Vickie as possible and to appear as though she'd started working on the mundane tasks she was given.

Keeping her distance from Shantelle, she strategically avoided her table of talkative women so as the avoid the lecture she knew Vickie was planning as she shuffled her feet around the restaurant.

As Evelynn walked around the counter, scissors in hand to trim the dead edges off the plants Vickie had scattered around the building, she felt her phone grow increasingly heavy in her center apron pocket.

Without pulling her phone out of her pocket, Evelynn subtly looked down to check the time and saw, not only one but now, two emails from Jax that remained unread.

Making sure Vickie was out of sight and earshot, Evelynn made her way to the dish pit where Shantelle was deep cleaning the cup racks.

'While I was telling everyone what happened, Jax sent me an email I read but didn't respond to. Since Vickie has been here, he's sent another email that I haven't been able to look at. Will you cover for me if she asks?'

Shantelle didn't have to think before she replied with, 'of course I will, E. You know I would cover for you even if I didn't know where you were. Go find out what he said so you can come back and tell me!'

'Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I'll be right back, you're a lifesaver!'

Evelynn hurried to the back of the restaurant where she walked out the back door and toward the bathroom where she could read the ever pressing emails from her terrifying ex-boyfriend.

As she rushed into the bathroom, phone in hand, Evelynn had already read the blatantly irritated 'kay, well let me know what's up when you're at her doctor.'

She rolled her eyes at his petty frustration and opened the next email.

'Is there anyway I can reach you other than email.'

She sighed. She should have known he'd keep pushing for another way to reach her.

She hoped she could get away with ignoring the last email again and simply wrote, 'actually I don't know when her therapy ends.'

As that email sent, Evelynn thought to herself, 'if I keep ignoring him, he's going to get pissed and freak out on me. Better to tell him no and let him be pissed in an email rather than at my apartment tonight.'

She quickly typed out a 'no, not right now, I don't think so,' and sent it shortly after the other.

She knew she had some time before Shantelle texted her and told her to come back because Vickie was looking for her. Evelynn decided to wait it out for a few minutes to see what Jax had to say.

Her phone buzzed in her hand and when she read the 'you said she goes to school at 10:00 and you work at 4:00...' she could feel his skeptikal gaze on her back and spun around in fear.

When no one was behind her and she felt safe again, Evelynn typed out her response of, 'she has school at eleven,' completely unaware that he somehow knew when she went into work the next day.

Almost as soon as she pressed the send button, Jax had replied. She sighed as she whisper read the new email.

'Oh...so at like 11:00 you can come over, and we can cuddle and kiss and such.'

In the moment Evelynn was going to reply, Shantelle texted her saying, Vickie's looking for you, hurry back.'

She hurried and typed out a quick 'sometime around there,' and ran out of the bathroom.

As she walked down the hallway, her phone rang in her apron pocket with yet another email from Jax.

Evelynn rolled her eyes again as she read the 'okay...so you're not going to try and get your things...we're just going to have a chill day...fod, cuddles, sex, etc.'

'Get back to work Evelynn. You can deal with him later; you have to handle Vickie first.'

She put her phone back into her pocket and braced herself for the whirlwind she knew Vickie would be.

Evelynn stepped back into the restaurant where Vickie was immediately in front of her.

'What were you doing? You were out there too long; we're busy in here. Shantelle has three tables.'

Evelynn gave a half smirk as she held back a chuckle then said, 'Vickie, you underestimate Shantelle; she can take care of her three tables and more if they came in. Look how happy she is out there. All I did was leave for a couple minutes to go to the bathroom.'

She put her hands in her apron pocket carefully so as to avoid her phone. She shied away from her phone as though it were toxic.

Vickie looked at her as though she were going to retaliate but saw something in Evelynn's eyes that told her not to.

Evelynn walked past Vickie into the dining room to see Shantelle at Christopher's table, her party that she got as soon as they opened, and one other small table of three.

Evelynn sighed as Shantelle walked up to the open kitchen counter where six hot plates of food sat, waiting to be run to her table.

They took three plates each and loaded them onto their arms to carry to her table.

When Shantelle set the last plate down, Christopher stood up, and, like clockwork, Shantelle appeared at his side.

She checked over her shoulder to make sure Vickie wasn't around before she stood on her toes and kissed him goodbye.

Evelynn ignored them as they started discussing the plans they'd made for that weekend and focused on the task at hand. Vickie's long list of chores.

As she walked away, Anita gently grabbed her wrist and said, 'Evie, baby, you're going to be okay. You're a strong girl and you can do hard things.'

Evelynn smiled to let Anita know she heard her and was appreciative of the sweet comment, and continued to the back of the restaurant for a tray to gather the salt and pepper shakers. She put thirty two empty salt and pepper shakers on her tray, even though she knew she only needed thirty. She knew from too many past experiences that Jacob, the coworker she rarely worked with since he was only scheduled nights, put the caps on too tight and untwisting them had the potential to crack the glass.

She tossed the buckets of salt and pepper onto her tray, grabbed a pair of gloves, and walked out of the back room to fill new salt and peppers and eliminate at least one task on Vickie's mile long list.

As she walked back into the dining room, Evelynn noticed Vickie was out talking to the few tables that were trying to eat. She felt a slight pull of sympathy for the guests in the restaurant as she used to be in their place; but, the feeling was quickly overpowered by relief that Vickie wouldn't be hovering over her while she worked.

She put her gloves on, started to unscrew caps, and, like clockwork, two of her salt and pepper shakers cracked and she had to throw them away.

Shantelle walked behind her and quickly whispered, 'is she ever going to leave? These chore lists, are getting to be unrealistic.'

Evelynn softly laughed to herself but didn't say anything. She knew if Vickie saw them stop long enough to have a conversation, there would be a twenty minute lecture about how it looks bad if employees are standing around talking instead of doing small side jobs that need to be done.

As she finished pouring salt into the fifteenth shaker, she looked up and noticed her table all needed new waters. She usually just put a big pitcher of water on the table for when they needed it so she wasn't filling water glasses too frequently. Her strategy when Vickie was around though, was to get them all new waters as often as possible so she had an excuse to be at their table talking with them.

She dropped off six new water glasses and when she set the last glass down, Vickie seemed to have materialized out of thin air. Evelynn ignored her and asked her table if they needed anything else, knowing full well Anita would make small talk with her about her family or school or her plans for the weekend until Vickie left so none of them had to hear about how 'nothing was ever done correctly and she would just have to come in and redo it all when the restaurant closed anyways' for what felt like the millionth time to everyone.




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