From A to ZbyChiara23©
As usual this story is exclusively my property and can't be republished or reprinted without my permission. Names have been changed to protect the guilty and not-so-innocent. Any resemblance to people living, dead or non-existent is merely a coincidence.
[I would like to send out a very special thank you to my new friend "Jim E." He offered some very good insights into how I could improve the story and make the characters more human.
On that note I'll have to do a bit of re-jigging on later chapters but there won't be much to change...I hope!
Thanks again Jim! Love ya baby! ;)]
Adele lived in the top unit of a triplex. She didn't really know her neighbours that well, she mostly kept to herself. Adele would've been called pretty once, before her ex had slashed her face and throat in a fit of jealous rage. As a result of his vicious assault she was still very skittish around men and avoided being alone with them. Adele wore her blond hair in a peek-a-boo cut in an attempt to hide her scars.
It was early on a Saturday morning and Adele needed to get her laundry done. The problem was that she had been very busy that week and the only clean clothes she had to wear was panties and an over-sized pyjama tee. She didn't want anyone to see her half naked but needed clean clothes. 'Quit being silly,' she thought to herself. 'It's too early for anyone else to be doing laundry.' With that thought in her mind she headed downstairs.
Adele was moving her clothes from the washers to the dryers when she heard a low chuckle from the laundry room door and spun around.
"Hmm, I guess I wasn't the only one who ran out of clean clothes."
It was the guy that lived in unit one, standing in the door with a laundry hamper and wearing nothing but blue boxers with Looney Toons pictures on them and a 'KISS' tee shirt. When she'd spun around Adele realized that her hair had flown away from her face, which must have given Mr. Unit One a good look at the ugly scars on the right side of her face and neck. She quickly pulled heir hair back down and turned away from him, the embarrassment and shame of her ugliness evident in the expression on her face and in her body language.
Mr. Unit One moved to the washers while Adele cringed away from him by the dryers, pulling her hair nervously.
"You're in the top unit right?"
Adele cringed and pulled her hair again, "Uhm, yeah."
He smiled at her, "I don't see you around much. My name's Zack."
Zack had seen Adele around a few times but had never gotten a good look at her before now. Now that he'd seen her up close he realized that she was quite pretty. He saw that she was probably uncomfortable with him being there, shaking like a leaf and pulling on her hair as if to hide her face from him.
"Would it be better if I came back later..."
Zack quickly packed up his laundry and returned to his apartment, leaving Adele alone.
She rushed to the laundry tub and threw up her breakfast, retching until her stomach was empty. She leaned on the edge of the tub crying softly to herself for several minutes before she could rinse her mouth out and splash some water on her face. Although it was the furthest thing from her mind, that very short conversation had been the longest time since she had been attacked by her ex that she'd been alone with a guy. Adele hated the fact that she had fallen so far from the person whom she'd been.
Adele quickly finished up her laundry then ran back to her apartment locking the door behind herself. She grabbed her phone and called her sister.
"K-Kyle I need to talk t-to Wendy!" she cried into the receiver.
"Adele? What's the matter sis?" Wendy said when her husband passed her the phone, concern in her voice.
"Oh God, oh God, oh God! W-Wendy I couldn't get away! He wouldn't leave me alone!" Adele sobbed.
"Shh, shh, shh sweetie you're not making sense. What do you mean you couldn't get away? Who wouldn't leave you alone baby? That guy who just moved in last month?"
"Yes him, he caught me in the laundry room and I was just in panties and my PJ tee. He thought it was funny because he was dressed the same. I can't believe he thought it was funny! He wouldn't shut up Wendy, the more he talked the more scared I got."
"Delly you need to calm down sweetie, just because he talked to you it doesn't mean he wants to hurt you. Not every guy is like Scott sis." Wendy said, "From what you just told me he didn't act threatening in any way honey. It sounded more like he was trying to be friendly with you and may have been a bit embarrassed himself about the whole situation. What you went through was terrible, I can't even imagine how you cope with the nightmares and the thoughts of what Scott did to you. What I do know is this isn't you."
"But Wendy he saw my FACE!" Adele hissed into the phone, her shame at being so weak evident in her tone.
Wendy tried to be patient with her sister but sometimes she had a difficult time trying to talk her through her crises. "So what Adele! So you've got scars on your face, and every time the doctor suggests surgery you tell him no. Some day you're going to have to let it go and start living again. Yes, what happened to you was traumatic and damaging both physically and emotionally. Scott was a fucking whack-job. He fucked you up, but if you don't move forward he wins. Don't you understand honey? The rape and beating you took were bad enough, but by cutting you up he wanted you to die. If not physically then emotionally. Don't let him win okay?"
"O-okay Wendy, I'm sorry for being such a pain in the ass." Adele said as she wiped her nose on the back of her hand.
"Delly you're not a pain in the ass you're just very fragile, and you need time to heal. I know that, but sometimes I wish I could do more for you sis. Get yourself a cup of tea and read or have a nap or something okay? Just calm down and I'll call you tomorrow to see how you are okay?"
"Okay sis, thanks for listening. It's just so hard being the one who's doing the leaning, I'm really glad you and Kyle are so close by. It's still okay for me to come over next weekend right?"
"Yes of course it is. The kids can't wait to see you and hear your new story. Get some rest and we'll talk later."
"Okay Wendy, see you next weekend. Give the kids big hugs and kisses from me."
"I will. Love you."
"Love you too."
Zack was disappointed that he couldn't bring the pretty girl from number three out of her shell more. He wasn't sure what to think, the scars on her face and neck were pretty awful. He was worried that maybe he had scared her badly because of the way she had been acting. Zack had never thought of himself as scary or intimidating and was confused by Adele's reaction to him. He decided that maybe he should just give her some space and see if things worked out differently the next time they met.
About a week later Adele was getting her mail when Zack came up beside her.
"Hi..." he said in a soft questioning tone.
"Adele, I'm Adele." she said as she began to shiver again.
"Hi Adele, I'm Zack, remember?"
She looked at him briefly. "Yeah, Zack. Hi."
Zack smiled gently at Adele, "How are you today?"
Adele blushed and looked away, hiding her face with her hair and trying to control her shaking. "I'm fine. You?"
"I'm doing fine thanks. Beautiful day today."
"Love the sun." Adele said as she looked up at the sky, avoiding Zack's gaze.
"Adele? I think that's a pretty name. It suits you."
Adele blushed again and started to shiver more violently, "Thanks."
She took her mail and almost ran up the stairs to her unit. Closing the door and locking it behind herself she leaned against it and panted softly, trying to calm her jangled nerves.
'God I can't believe I just did that!' She thought to herself, a tiny spark of pride flaring in her heart. 'I actually talked to him and didn't totally freak out!' Then she promptly ran to the kitchen sink and threw up.
Zack shrugged in disappointment as he went into his unit, 'At least she engaged a bit more this time,' he thought. Zack checked through his mail and thought about Adele. He wondered what had happened and how her face had been scarred so badly. He and his sister Sandy had grown up in an abusive home until they'd been put in foster care. Their foster parents eventually adopted them, but he still held a deep anger toward abusive men.
Later that day he saw Mrs. Klein, the woman who rented number two. "Hi Mrs. Klein how are you?"
"I'm well thank-you dear, how are you?"
Zack smiled and said he was good too. "Ahh, do you know anything about Adele, the girl in number three Mrs. Klein?"
"She's a quiet girl, I talk to her sometimes and she's always very polite. She's lived here a little less than a year, but from what I've seen she rarely goes out."
Zack was embarrassed to ask his next question, "I uh..I saw she had scars on her face and neck. Do you know what happened?"
"She's never really told me how she got them but I'm sure it had to have been a horrible experience. She scurries around like a little mouse scared of its own shadow."
"Yeah that's kind of the impression I got too. I don't know why but I think maybe she was different before whatever happened to her."
Adele sat up in her bed, screaming herself awake. Screaming like she had that night, like it was happening again, like she had every night since then.
She had come home late from a night out with her friends. They'd been celebrating her casting in a regular role on a TV series.
She walked into her apartment and without any warning a hand wrapped around her throat, crushing her windpipe and making her gasp in surprise and pain.
"One word and you're dead bitch," a voice growled into her ear. She could smell the bitter stench of stale beer on his breath.
"S-Scott what are you doing?" Adele managed to croak through her bruised throat.
"You thought you could just dump me like you did Adele? Calling the cops on me was a bad move bitch. I didn't give you anything you didn't deserve." Scott said as he slammed her into the wall, sending her reeling and stunned to the floor. When Adele caught her breath she saw the flash of hatred in her ex-boyfriend's eyes. It was then that she realized that she might die that night. Adele tried to stay calm and reason with Scott even though she was almost paralysed with fear.
"I didn't deserve to get slapped around Scott, and kicking the shit out of my friend wasn't smart either. I told you then that it was over. Get out now." She said with a slight quaver in her voice.
"I know about what you were doing with that Ron guy. I know you were fucking him. I should've killed the little puke while I had the chance."
"Ron was working with me on a script for a part I was doing in a show, nothing happened. You really need to leave."
Scott grabbed Adele by her hair and dragged her through the apartment. She let out a squeal of pain from his rough treatment and he swung his free hand at her, hitting her in the eye and blackening it almost immediately. Adele groaned as she saw stars from his punch and grabbed the hand holding her hair, trying to make him let go. Scott bounced Adele's face off the wall, making her cry out in pain as she felt her nose crack against it and blood splash down her face.
She had to do something, and quickly, or she'd never make it through this. Adele started screaming at the top of her lungs, "Help! Help! Call the police! Jesus fucking Christ let go of me you son of a bitch!"
Scott's fist caught Adele in the solar plexus, ramming the air from her lungs and making her black out. He dragged her limp body into the kitchen and dumped her on the floor. Scott yanked Adele's skirt up and tore the crotch of her panties out. He unzipped his jeans and pulled his erect cock out of them as he got down between her legs. Scott placed his rod at her entrance and rammed himself into her so hard the teeth of his zipper scratched the tender flesh of her labia.
When she came to Adele felt an agonizing pain in her groin. She felt the cold tiles of the kitchen floor on her back and again felt that screaming pain deep within her. She couldn't move at all, her arms were pinned over her head as she felt Scott violating her mercilessly.
Adele began screaming again as she tried to fight her way out from under Scott. "Rape! Rape! AAAGGHHH! Help! YOU GOD-DAMNED ASSHOLE GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME!!!"
Scott continued to pound himself into Adele's abused vagina, bruising her vulva with the force of his thrusts. He was a mad man, laughing at Adele's panicked attempts to escape from him. Scott grabbed both of her wrists in one hand and hit her in the face again, rocking her head to the side and making her stop screaming for a moment. Although her head rang with pain Adele jerked it from side to side as Scott tried to clamp his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming again. Luckily for Adele when he managed to get his hand in position the soft meat of his thumb was right over her mouth. She bit him as hard as she could, until she could taste his blood in her mouth and she kept on biting. Adele began chewing on his hand for all she was worth.
Scott bellowed in pain and pulled his bleeding and torn hand from Adele's mouth, giving her the chance to scream for help again. He let go of her wrists and grabbed his injured hand, trying to stem the flow of blood from the ragged wound in his hand. That gave Adele just enough freedom to slap an open palm across his left ear, rupturing his eardrum in the process and making him howl and stagger up and off of her.
"You fucking whore! I'm going to kill you!" Scott yelled as she staggered up to her feet and backed away from him, holding a hand to her aching belly and crying in pain.
Adele stared daggers right back at Scott through her tears as she grabbed a knife from the block on the counter. "Fuck you ass hole! You're such a big man, you think that doing this tonight is payback for getting arrested for what you did to me and Ron? You're a sick pile of shit Scott!"
Her words enraged him and he charged her but Adele managed to stab him twice in the shoulder just before he plowed into her, knocking the wind out of her and making her crumple to the floor. Scott grabbed the knife from Adele's limp hand and held her down.
"I think I'm going to enjoy doing this more than fucking you, you worthless cunt," Scott growled with a crazed glint in his eyes. His hand came down once, twice, then two more times.
Adele screamed in renewed agony as the blade cut almost to the bone, slicing through her flesh like it was paper. Her blood sprayed from the horrific wounds as Scott laughed maniacally. He stood up and watched Adele as her hands scrabbled fruitlessly to stem the flow of blood.
"Heh! You look like hell bitch. I hope you live." Scott said as he dropped the knife on the floor and walked out of her apartment, the shrill sound of sirens getting closer by the second.
If it hadn't been for one of her neighbours calling 911, Adele probably would have died. She'd lost quite a bit of blood before the police and paramedics arrived, but she fought and survived.
Over the months after she'd been attacked Adele had fallen into a deep depression. Even with the support of her sister, therapist and friends she fell deeper and deeper into her self loathing. She over-dosed on tranquilizers in an attempted suicide and ended up in the hospital under constant watch for several weeks afterwards until she had stabilized again. Adele's road to recovery was a slow and painful trek for her.
A few weeks later, Zack caught Adele in the laundry room again. "Hi Adele, how are you?"
"Uhm Hi...Zack." Adele said shyly. She held his gaze for just a second before looking away again.
Zack watched her, surprised that she'd actually looked at him as long as she had. He thought that maybe if he played things light it might make her feel more comfortable with him.
"So...have any pantie issues lately?" he asked with a chuckle.
Adele frowned and replied with a short "No."
Zack mentally kicked himself. 'Pantie issues? Seriously? What were you thinking man?' He felt disappointed at her reaction to what he thought would be a good idea.
'What kind of question was that? Pantie issues?! Phht!' Adele thought to herself as she felt her anger rise.
"Look, Adele, I'm sorry about that. It was a stupid attempt at humour." Zack said softly.
Adele continued to fold her laundry trying not to shake the fillings out of her teeth. She didn't know what to do, her emotions were in turmoil, she was scared of Zack and angry at his comment at the same time. Couldn't he see that she didn't want him there?
Zack felt like an idiot, he had tried to bring Adele out of her shell a bit but instead had probably just pissed her off. He figured it was probably better to just leave before he did any more damage than he had already done.
"Maybe I should just leave you to your laundry and come back after okay?"
"Okay," Adele said without looking at him.
After Zack left Adele ran to the laundry tub and emptied her stomach again. She felt like she was going to die. She knew Zack had talked to Mrs. Klein about her, and he kept trying to talk to her whenever he saw her. God, couldn't he just leave her alone?
Zack went back to his unit, left his laundry by the door and fell onto the sofa with his head in his hands. 'What the the hell was that Zack?' he thought to himself. He was pretty sure that Adele had been through hell with whatever had happened to her, and he just kept on bothering her and making her feel even worse.
He got up and went to the kitchen to pour himself some coffee. As he leaned on the counter, he thought about how she looked at him and how she reacted to his presence. It was the exact same look his mother had when his father was in a rage.
Because of his abusive childhood Zack had become a protector and nurturer. He constantly found himself helping someone or some animal, which sometimes backfired on him. He had, even from a young age, assumed the role of protector towards his sister, who was four years older than him. He would stand between her and their father whenever he was in a rage.
Zack wondered what he was getting himself in to with this Adele girl. Would the whole thing blow up in his face like he'd had happen countless times before? Not once that he could remember had he ever turned his back when he could help. Zack knew what he had to do, for better or worse he had to at least try. He just hoped this time his efforts would actually do some good.
He knew he shouldn't force things but he couldn't stop thinking about Adele. He wanted to get to know her, but to do that he knew he had to push her barriers. With that thought in his mind Zack put his cup on the counter and walked out of his unit and back down to the laundry room.
Adele squeaked and jumped in surprise, wedging herself in the corner made by the wall and a dryer. "What? What do you want?" she asked, the fear evident in her eyes and body language.
"Whoa, hey, it's okay. I'm sorry if I scared you." Zack said gently as he paused to gather his thoughts. "I don't want to hurt you, I just want to talk to you. I didn't mean to startle you, honest. Listen, I know we've only just met...I've only been in town a few months...I don't really know many people. Would you like to go for coffee one day?"
"Coffee?" Adele asked, with a stricken, almost terrified tone in her voice.
"Yes...if you'd like to? We can go to a Starbucks? Or some place where you'll feel comfortable?"
Adele shivered, she was very conflicted about Zack. He seemed to be a nice guy, the vibe she was getting from him was that he was honest and gentle. But after what her ex had done guys scared her so much. She knew deep down that not all guys were like Scott, but the thought of opening up to a guy again...