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Never Again


He could have been an actor if he wanted. Perhaps not in the Hollywood sense, but he could pull off daytime television or Lifetime without difficulty. There was something about him that helped him fool everyone we came across. Everyone from our closest friends to the local bartender at our usual bar were fooled by his facade. Even our parents believed him. Everyone except for me. I tried to fool myself by believing the act he would pull for years, but it had come to the point where I could no longer due so. The bruises lasted longer, and the cuts had a habit of scarring now.

He was a good person, don't get me wrong. Once upon a time, I had referred to him as "Mr. Perfect." He was the type of boyfriend who would open doors for me, pull out chairs when I needed to sit down, send flowers for me to receive at work, took care of me when I was sick, and brought me on tour with him and his band. He was funny, smart, charming - you name it. We had known each other since grade school, and he became one of my best friends. We went from sharing crayons with one another to stealing kisses at the most random moments. He and I were the couple that everyone was envious of. The romance we shared was something straight out of a romance novel. My parents loved him, and his parents loved me. How often did that happen? He was everything I ever needed. Yes, Jonathan Seward was the best thing that could ever happen to me. It was always [i]"Johnny and Leita, the perfect couple."[/i] For years, things were perfect between us. After all, how could anything go wrong when you date your best friend?

We didn't have the typical rock star romance together. When I mentioned to people that my boyfriend was the bassist of a popular rock group, people would apologize to me and express their concerns about how hard it must be to maintain a relationship. But this was not true for us. While it was true that it was a major adjustment to have a boyfriend who was on the road all the time, we made it work by adjusting our schedules. Every couple of weeks, he would fly me out to spend time with him on tour. While sleeping on a tiny bunk in a bus with limited running water with numerous other people wasn't exactly glamorous, it was the trick that made our relationship work out so well. They say that the trick to keeping a relationship strong is communication, a value that we kept as strong as possible. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to see world.

Within the past couple of years, Avenged Sevenfold had become one of the most well-known bands in the rock genre of music. Their last album, entitled Nightmare, hit the charts at number one within a week. Formed in 1999, the band had released five studio albums, played in venues all around the world, won many awards for their music, and had played with bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, and many other big names. If it wasn't for the band, Johnny and I would have never gotten together. Much like many other classic stories, it all started with a drunken hook-up. This one, however, turned into something beautiful. But all of that is a story for a different day.

This story began a few nights after the band wrapped up their most recent tour. Just as we had the past few times, Johnny and I celebrated his homecoming by becoming attached at the hip. Our beautiful home in Huntington Beach, California turned into our little love nest, as I fondly called it. We went out to eat a few times, went out on a date, and spent hours together in the bedroom. Even then, something seemed slightly off to me. It didn't seem like a big deal at first. He simply seemed a little…off. I couldn't quite place my finger on it. When we were in public, he seemed a touch more affectionate than usual. When I was at work, he would text me saying how much he missed me and couldn't wait for me to come home. When we were around our friends, he would not only keep his hands on me at all times, but would make a few comments about how I was the only one for him. Subtle changes that I never picked up on.

It wasn't until our fights became a little more heated that I realized something wasn't quite right with him. Instead of the usual arguing that consisted of annoyed and somewhat nasty comments, we found ourselves shouting in each other's face. Each time seemed to be worse than the last. Our dogs, Tobey and Peanut, often hid themselves in the safe confinement of another room anytime we found ourselves in a spat. As bad as the arguments were, however, making up was just as extreme - but in a good way. The worse the argument, the better the make up. This was fine…aside from that first part. His temper had a habit of outdoing mine.

Now, let's get something straight - Johnny isn't the type of guy you would suspect to get angry. He stood about 5'6, and had a slightly smaller frame to match. His arms were toned from working out with his band mates, but all in all, the word diminutive would be perfect to describe the bassist. His face consisted of soft, almost boyish features. He had a smile that lit up his entire face and melted my heart in the best way. Sure, he had the "rocker" persona to him - tattoos littered him from his neck, down both arms, across his chest, and then on his calves, and the way he held himself claimed confidence, but Johnny was one of the nicest guys one could ever meet. Everyone would say that about him - how he was such a sweetheart. To see him get angry was an abnormality. Even when we argued before the tour, he wouldn't get mad as much as he would get upset. But more recently, he would simply get furious, especially with me. It was worse when he drank. And let's face it: he was a rock star and therefore drank often. It never bothered me until I witnessed the alcohol effecting his temper as well.

The more we fought, the more he would drink. The more he drank, the more heated the argument became. It wasn't long before he was taking out his anger physically. Picture frames, glasses, numerous other things, and finally our coffee table were broken in his small fits of rage he would go through. The last was broken in an argument over my agreement in taking a extra weekend shift at the hospital that I worked at. It was the same weekend we were supposed to visit his parent's for his mother's birthday. Once he sobered up, however, he apologized profusely and explained that he understood that I needed to work. After all, it had always been my dream to work in the healthcare field. Once upon a time, he supported that dream. Now…not so much.

Eventually, the arguments came to the point where I couldn't handle it anymore. One night, after he had been drinking of course, he decided to pick an argument with me over his distaste in the new curtains I had purchased for our living room. At least, that's where it started. It ended with me calling him an alcoholic that I could no longer bear to live with. His answer was simple: If you don't like it, get out. So I did. I packed an overnight bag and spent the night at our friend Zachary "Zacky" Baker's home. He was the rhythm guitarist of Avenged Sevenfold, and a friend of mine since middle school. His wife, Gena, had become one of my closest girl friends. So she was the person I turned to. Zacky spent most of the night in their home studio while we had a girl's night. That night, I ended up spending the night in their guest bedroom.

Johnny heard different. When I finally got up the courage to return home the next day, I found him inconsolable with a half-necked bottle of vodka. There had been tears down his cheeks, which were tinted red from a mixture of the crying and the alcohol, but when I walked in the door he was more pissed than upset.

[i]"You slept with him, didn't you?" He accused as I set my backpack down in the front entryway. I simply sighed at his actions, shaking my head. "…Don't fucking lie to me."

"I didn't. I wouldn't."

"I told you not to fucking lie to me!" I nearly jumped out of my skin as the bottle smashed against the wall to my right, spilling glass and alcohol everywhere. He stormed forward, gripping my chin between his thumb and forefinger tightly. "You ran to Zacky and slept with him! I know you've always had a thing for him!"

Annoyed, I slapped his hand away, "You're a mess, you know that? Of course I didn't sleep with him. You would believe me if you weren't so drunk. You're just a child with a temper right now."[/i]

That was the first time he had ever laid a hand on me in a violent manner. By the time I was able to comprehend what he had done, my cheek was bruised and blood dripped from my split lip. He didn't settle for just slapping me. No, for a week after the fact I had a bruise the size of his fist painted across my right cheek. I didn't know how to handle it. The shock didn't allow me to get angry or upset. Tears slipped from my eyes, but only from the pain. It didn't seem real - why the man who loved me do this to me? True, the comment had been nasty, but…did that justify punching me? No. It was an accident. It was the alcohol's fault. Johnny…my Johnny…wouldn't do this to me. My Johnny didn't hit women. And I had always told myself that I would never stay with a man who laid a finger on me in a way that wasn't pleasant, or at least justifiable.

It was that ignorant bliss that stopped me from leaving him then and there. I didn't believe that he would do that to me. The hit seemed to sober him up as well, for he was quick to start his apologies. And for awhile after that, he was back to being the sweetest guy in the world. Flowers were given, he took me out to an expensive dinner, and took me to see a band that I had wanted to see in concert for years. These attempts at apologizing only underlined the fact that the hit had been an accident. The bruise was blamed on an unruly patient at work, and everyone bought the excuse. Even our friends. After awhile, he and I started to believe it too. It was an accident that would never happen again.

Sort of.

While it was true that he never once laid a finger on my face, the rest of my body was open territory. After all, he was quick to learn that if he left a mark in a place where people could see - people would start to question if something was wrong. If there was a mark anywhere else, I could simply blame it on a patient at work or my own clumsiness. After awhile, I was instructed to do just that. That's when the lies began. The whole "never again" statement turned into a cold-hearted lie. At first, he would only hit me if I really insulted him, or if I had really messed something up. Then he started hitting me for little things. I blamed a bruised side, created by his foot after I burnt our supper, on a patient who was being transferred to the psychiatric unit of our hospital. A gash in my arm, caused by the end of a broken beer bottle after I had spilled the liquid on the carpet, was blamed on the fact that I hadn't trimmed our dogs' nails. A broken rib, the result of supposedly flirting with our waiter at breakfast, was blamed on me tripping up the stairs while carrying a basket of laundry. Every injury had a lie. The lies were believed by everyone.

Our friends took notice at first, of course. They would question if anything was up, but Johnny simply soothed them over with a few carefully chosen words. A sober Johnny had a way of cozening people into believing whatever he had to say. Unless I wanted a more severe punishment, I had to play along. Whatever he said was the truth, no matter how many lies were thrown in there. Then again, it was the sober Johnny that I loved. The one who took care of me, who protected me at all times. The one who told me that he loved me more than he had every loved anyone or anything else. Then again, perhaps it was the pretty cozened words that had me jaded in the first place. Soon, everyone was convinced that Johnny and I had the perfect relationship. Almost everyone.

"Are you sure that you and Johnny are okay?" Zacky asked me as he drove me home. It was an unusually warm day in the middle of spring, so I had spent the day at his and Gena's household while Johnny went to do an interview for the band in Los Angeles. We decided to have a small cookout in his backyard, just hanging out by the pool.

The question was so out-of-the-blue that I found myself looking at him in surprise. We had everyone convinced, so the question made me slightly nervous. God forbid I slipped up and mentioned something that Johnny wouldn't approve of. "Yes, of course we are. Why?"

He was quiet for a moment, drumming his fingers on the thick leather of his steering wheel. A sigh escaped his pale lips as he glanced at me, seeming to find the words he was looking for. "…You had a bruise on your thigh, on your ribs, a scratch from your chest to your shoulder, and you were limping a little when you came out of the pool." Shit. The cover-up I used to soften the color of the bruises washed off due to the chemicals in the pool, but I had rushed to use a towel to hide the damages. I didn't think that either of them had noticed.

"I fell down the stairs," I tried to convince him, "Peanut ran under my feet when I was bringing some stuff downstairs, and I ended up falling."

An eyebrow was arched, "…Did you slam yourself in a doorjamb a few times too? That bruise on your rib looks nasty." That bruise was the result of being kicked multiple times in the side after dropping a jar of pickles in the kitchen, causing the jar to shatter.

"No…I landed on the last step like that."

To say that I was terrified would be an understatement. Especially when the guitarist said nothing in reply. My heart beat irregularly in my chest as we pulled into the driveway of my home. Johnny's car was in the driveway, only adding to my fear. What if Zacky questioned him? Would he think I said something?

You might have been wondering why I never fought back. Why was I letting the man I loved shove me around and beat me like I was no better than a used toy? The answer was simple: I loved him. Sure, it sounded stupid and naïve, but that was the God's honest truth. Somewhere deep inside me, I still believed that Johnny would never abuse me. Deep down, he was still the man I loved. If I did walk away, where would I go? All of my friends were his friends. No matter what I did, I couldn't escape him. Besides, some part of me believed that this would all come to an end one day. He would go back to my normal, loving boyfriend. And when he did, perhaps we could get married. In the meantime, I would only wish that this was just a dream. I was caught in a trap with no way out. I loved him too much. Someday, he would see what he was doing to me.

"…You'll tell me if anything ever happens, right?" Out of the car, Zacky embraced me in a friendly hug. It was gentle, and the placement of his arms was careful as if he knew that hugging me would only hurt my injured side more. The words, meant to be comforting, only caused me to panic more. I hugged him back, wrapping my arms around his frame gently as I nodded. "I mean it. If anything ever happens, if he ever does anything to hurt you, you need to tell me. I can't help you otherwise, okay?"

"You don't have to worry about it, Zacky. Johnny loves me, and would never do anything to hurt me." I repeated the line Johnny had fed me many a time.

His beautiful blue-green eyes met my hazel ones. The uncertainty in them was undeniable. What if he saw through my lie? No. I knew better than that. This had been going on for months - I had learned to lie while looking someone in the eye. "Okay." Nothing more was said, though he placed a kiss on the top of my head. "I love you, Leita. I just don't want to see anything happen to you." The words of affection were meant on a friendly level. They were words that were exchanged within our entire group of friends, and meant nothing more.

I kissed his cheek gently, "I love you too, Z. I'm fine, I promise." I'm lying.

Goodbyes were exchanged for a final time before I headed into my home. I listened as Zacky's car drove away before calling my lover's name. There was no answer. The dogs didn't even run to see me. Perhaps they were locked in their crates for some reason. It didn't help the feeling of dread I felt as I ascended the stairs that led to the second floor of our home. The house was too quiet for my liking, and I was already uneasy from Zacky's questioning. Something wasn't right. Once more, I called my lover's name as I pushed open the door to our bedroom. The smell of alcohol flooded my system as the door brushed against several empty bottles. In front of the window stood Johnny, who had his hands folded behind his back as he peered out into the street where Zacky and I had been standing. He had watched us talk. He had watched Zacky kiss the top of my head. Add alcohol into the mix.

"…I knew it." The words were spoken in a hoarse tone, "I knew there was something between you two. There has been all along. You've lied to me, Leita. You've lied to me for a long time now." My breath hitched in my throat as he turned to face me. Like many other times I had seen him, his face was flushed with color, and his eyes were unfocused. He shook as tears rolled down his cheeks. "I try. I try so fucking hard to be everything you need, yet you still go for him? Am I not enough for you?" My feet were frozen to the floor as he approached me slowly, his breathing ragged. "I can't believe you would do this to me, Leita. I love you. I love you more than he ever could. He loves his wife, he doesn't love you. Is that what it is? You want to get married? We can do that, Baby, we can. I just…I have to make sure you don't leave me." My throat was grabbed tightly before he pulled me to him. "…Till death do us part, right? I'll never leave you. I love you too much, Baby."

It hit me. This would be the worst punishment yet. He was going to kill me, whether it was accidental or not.


I don't know if this story it's over. But if it is... just let me tell you that I really, really, enjoyed it! It was great! It was amazing & i loved how real you made it seem.

Great work.
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores