Prologue

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"The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates..." Psalm 11:5

Jelissa

At the time it didn't seem like I was making the wrong decision by staying with him.

"You, you must think you somethin' special right?" Mason asked with his hands wrapped tightly around my neck. He had me pushed into a corner, up against a wall. This had become a position I was all too familiar with. My finger nails dug deeply into the skin on his hands while I desperately gasped for air. He let out a groan.

"Shit," Mason let go of my neck and I fell to the ground. I started trying to crawl away from him as he examined his hands but I didn't get too far before I felt the wind leave me. When Mason's boot connected to my stomach was when I knew that it was real, but I still thought that if I could plead with him, if I could get him to open his eyes and see me... see what he was doing to me and how he was hurting me, then maybe I'd be able to get him to stop.

"Mason please..." I coughed out as I crawled to him, my head bowed at his feet. "I'm sorry baby," I cried out, "I'm so sorry." I yelled as my tears drenched his boot. My head was heavy and I felt like the room was spinning at one thousand miles an hour. At this point everything around me was in slow motion; Mason's voice, my breathing, the sound of my tears hitting his boots. My mouth went dry and my eyes felt like each of them were being weighed down, like it would take too much energy trying to open them.

But I was seeing black before I could say anything else. And that was when I heard the sirens. As I slipped in and out of consciousness, the sirens got louder, which was when I realized that I was in an ambulance. The next time I opened my eyes, I was in a hospital room and a nurse was putting an IV in me. And the next time I opened my eyes, Janessa sat by the hospital bed squeezing my hand tightly with tears running down her face. My eyelids were still surprisingly heavy, and I drifted back into unconsciousness.

Janessa

I sat on the couch cuddled up next to Keenan with my head tucked comfortably between his chin and his shoulder. We haven't been seeing eye to eye lately, but a little quiet time was all we needed. No arguing, no yelling, just relaxing. Although Keenan had been with me nearly my entire life, we'd always bump heads. For the past few months, I'd found myself wanting to be clean and be free from all of the secrets that bound me up as a child and weighed me down as an adult. Keenan understood, he just wasn't ready to do the same.

I was ready to be honest with Jelissa and I wanted to lay it all out on the table whether I had the support of my parents or not. My relationship with them was always one of incalescence. While my father would remain relatively cool his disappointment would be written all over his face. He still had hope for me after all these years. But my mother on the other hand didn't mind letting me know exactly what was on her mind no matter what effect her words and actions took on me. It hurt, but I'd grown accustomed to it.

Jelissa had a no good boyfriend who everyone disapproved of, Mason. Her attraction to him boggled my mind, just like I'm sure my attraction to Keenan as a teenager boggled my parents minds. I see a lot of myself in her which is why I find myself being overprotective a lot of the time. Honestly, Mason doesn't treat her right. I've seen her come home dull and sad and that isn't a side of Jelissa that I like to see. I know she could do better, but when I think about their relationship and just how much it mirrors Keenan and I when we were that age, it becomes a little hard to speak up.

My phone started buzzing and I answered it before settling back into Keenan's arms, "Hello? What, do you need me to pick you up baby?" I asked, seeing that it was Jelissa. She was probably hanging out late with the girls again. "Hi, I'm not sure who this is but you were the last dialed number on this phone and the contact said you were her sister. I just had to call the police," A man spoke into the phone, "This guy and his girlfriend are always fighting in my apartment building and tonight it was just bad. They're taking the girl to the hospital in an ambulance." I gasped.

"Oh my gosh, thank you so much." I hung up the phone trying to wrap my mind around all of the information that I was receiving. Keenan sat up, looking concerned, "What's wrong, who was that on the phone?" He placed a hand on my shoulder and before my words came out, there was a string of tears. "Jelissa's in the hospital, she and Mason were fighting and I guess it got physical. Come on babe we gotta go see her." I stood up and went to pull Keenan up but he didn't move from off of the couch.

"Babe... I think I should let you go on your own," Keenan stood, holding both of my hands in his before I pulled back from him. "Why would you say that? She's going through something, don't you want to be there for us?" Keenan nodded, "Of course I wanna be there for y'all, but I haven't seen her since she was a little girl... I'm not sure if I want her to be all... down the first time I see her. I'm just not ready baby." I wiped my tears as I moved away from him, "You know what Keenan? That's fucked up."

And with that I left immediately.

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