I always thought that as long as I could go through life with my head above water, I’d be okay. And that’s exactly what my life entailed…up until this point. So what has happened now? Now I was drowning, flailing in a sea threatening to swallow me whole and never spit me out again.
But, man, what a sea to drown in. What a blissfully ignorant wave I was riding on. And why? Well, it all stemmed from a boy I met when I was six-years-old. You remembered him, didn’t you? The boy with the cheeky grin, the black spiky hair, and the most amazing piercing blue eyes? Yes, that’s the one. The love of my life, the man of my dreams…the fucking painful thorn in my side. I could never say the kind of relationship Dean and I had was conventional.
We were the two most fucked up people I’d ever seen. He swept me off my feet when I was six, sucked me into a world where only he existed, then disappeared from my life. It bruised me in a way from which I knew I would never recover. I hid it well from others, but I was painfully in love with this boy who vanished from my life.
Then he returned, and he wasn’t my Dean anymore. He wasn’t the boy who used to climb into my window when I was a child. He wasn’t the boy who would whisper in my ear, make me permanently blush, and cause my stomach to flutter with a million butterflies.
He was a man consumed by rage, hate, and revenge. A man who would stop at nothing until I was broken. Well, he succeeded. I was wrecked. I was not the woman I used to be. I had shattered into a million pieces. My resolve was weakened, my heart was crushed, and I was turned into something I thought I would never become…weak.
I was forced into accepting help from my parents—something which I vowed never to do. I was also forced into cashing in my trust fund a little earlier than anticipated. Thanks to my parents and a clause in my trust fund that if I marry or become pregnant before my thirtieth birthday, I was to inherit two million pounds, I had money…lots of it. It made me feel sick every day to know that I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. That I couldn’t be the one to decide my fate. And why? Because I had to run. I had to run far away from the man I used to run towards. A man I would have given anything to run to. And it was all because of one person.
My so-called best friend. The boy I used to play with when I was small. The boy I used to spend my summer holidays with, get drunk with, have spaghetti bolognese nights with. I was at school with him, went to university with him… Hell, I even worked with him. He was always there. Always my constant. Always, it seems, scheming behind my back. I loved him like a best friend should, but he was waiting in the shadows for the right time to strike the whole time.
I could safely say that my life had changed dramatically in the last few years. I was never one to be ordinary. Hell, I used to let a stranger come into my flat and wickedly tease me on a regular basis. That could hardly be considered ordinary. But why did I let it happen? Did I subconsciously know it was Dean the whole time? Quite possibly. In fact, I kept telling myself that just so I didn’t think I was going crazy. I was wrong to let it go on but, truth be told, it was the best thing that ever happened. At least I could have closure. At least I now knew what became of Dean. I could finally be free and start my life anew.
Or so I thought.
After I left and never looked back, things were fine for over four years. I was keeping my head above water. I was managing to live my life normally, beginning my dream of becoming a kindergarten teacher. I was managing to get by, focusing solely on one important person in my life. He was my reason for getting up every morning and carrying on. He was my lifeline. He was the person I could cuddle up to at night when I felt lonely and scared of what my life might become. He was my everything, and all my energy went into making the best out of the situation I got myself into.
I was careful not to be found. My family and I had come to an arrangement on how I could contact them. I could never call the house, never contact them by mobile phone. I had to go through a lawyer friend, who would pass on messages to them. It worked for a while. I knew Dean would never give up and I knew that, despite everything he had done to me, I would never be able to hold myself back from falling into his abyss again. I was always there, and I had kidded myself into thinking I could crawl back out of it. I just wanted to be as far away from him as possible so he couldn’t suck me under.
It worked. I was coping. Then something made my world turn upside down.
In that one moment, everything changed.
“Derren, what time are we having lunch today? I have a hair appointment at twelve, and I think I’ll be about an hour.” I listened out for his voice to see if he had heard me. When he appeared from the hallway and walked into the kitchen, I smiled and let out a little sigh. Derren never failed to amaze me at just how handsome he looked. He seemed to get better with age. His hazel eyes danced over my body, making my stomach clench. Even after all these years, he certainly still had it in him to make me weak in the knees. All the ladies loved him, even his interns, who were twenty years his junior. He never looked at them, though. He was mine. All mine.