XII

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"Liam started off normal. He had some home issues, some family problems but he was a nice dude. I knew him for a while and he was always great." I say with a shrug.

"The shift happened sophomore year. It was like he just spiraled out of control for no reason. I didn't see it, I just saw the usual Liam. But other people warned me he wasn't the same. I ignored it." I tell him.

"We started dating, everything was fine for a while. He respected my decisions and my wanting to take things slow." I say remembering the old Liam. The sweet, charismatic guy everyone once loved.

I wonder what happened to him to turn him into a completely different person... was it something like Blake went through?
"I started to feel the shift toward the middle of sophomore year. He started to become controlling, he didn't trust me with my friends, him and Darek started butting heads, and then the mind games slowly started. He called me awful things but managed to make me feel like he cared for me at the same time." I say shaking my head.

"He ruined any confidence I had... he hit me where he knew it hurt, and then he started doing what Eliza did to you. Making me feel like he was the only one willing to be with me. Like he was the only one who would ever want me. That fear of loneliness took over and I stayed in that awful relationship." I say shaking my head.

"He had me feeling like dirt, but I still had enough of a brain to turn him down when he was basically forcing the idea of sex to me." I say.

"That's when shit started to go bad. There was him accusing me of not really liking him because I wouldn't do anything further than kissing him, there was the trying to make me feel guilty, the making me feel worthless... then my friends started to step in. Darek told me about the shit he was saying about me in the locker rooms. He was spreading rumors about me being a slut... but then when my friends and I shut them down, it turned into 'virgin' and 'prude' and 'too good for anybody.' Either way, I couldn't win." I say shaking my head.

"Thank god my friends had my back. Especially Darek. One day they sat me down and let me know I was better than that... I deserved better. I didn't believe them, I was so brainwashed at that point. But they finally got through to me just enough that when they told me about him cheating on me, I was done with him." Blake smiles as I say this and I giggle.

"Sadly I wish that's where it ended, but no. Darek and Liam had a horrible fight about a week later. Darek still to this day won't tell me what it was about. I know I must've had something to do with it, but I have a feeling it goes deeper than that." I tell him.

"Anyways... Darek wasn't around for a certain period of time after that and I didn't know why. It made me feel like I was losing my friends, I had lost my boyfriend, and in my mind I was already worthless. I was a mess so I went to see Liam... to confront him." I say before trailing off.

"I wasn't thinking. I'm not good at being vulnerable with people, I'm so used to being the strong one. The tough girl nobody messes with. Even with Liam and all of my friends I don't let them in all the way. I have walls that constantly protect me so I never have to feel that pain of loss and sadness that I felt when my parents didn't come home." I tell him, tears starting to cloud my eyes.

"So I knew I would be strong enough to turn down any bull crap Liam might throw at me about being sorry and wanting me back. I thought I had nothing to lose. I just wanted closure... I thought that might be a good foundation for a friendship, or somehow fix things between him and Darek so Darek would be back in the picture." I say shaking my head.

The tears fall as I finally tell Blake the reason why Liam changed schools, why he rubs my friends the wrong way, and why the sight of him gives me a panic attack.

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