30 - Best friends are for kicking your hungover ass when you're already down.

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"No! What the fuck, Sadie? That wasn't what I was saying at all. I meant that he'll never have the motivation to get the help he needs if you keep stepping in to save him. He needs to learn how to deal with his own fucked up head on his own before he does any more damage to anyone else. None of us can do that for him," said Landon. "Least of all you."

"Why? Am I so useless I can't even help my own boyfriend?" On some level, I'm sure I knew I was being unreasonable with this one, but it was the first thing that came into my head and I blurted it out before thinking it through.

Landon suddenly moved closer to me, and I found myself flinching away from him involuntarily, likely the result of the proceedings of the previous night. I didn't feel threatened by him at all. I knew he would never hurt me. I was apparently just hyper-sensitive to anyone being near me after what happened with Camden.

I think Landon realised what he had done and took a step back, but very slowly put his hands on my shoulders to hold me still. He made sure I caught his eye before he continued talking. "Sadie, if anyone can help anyone, it's going to be you, every time. But he is beyond your help now. I know you know this," he implored, tears in his eyes, too.

"I just don't want anything bad to happen to him, Landon. I know he's horrible to me. I do. But I still don't want anything bad to happen to him." I was crying quietly now, but I could feel the pressure building behind my eyes like an overflowing reservoir, and I knew those dam walls were set to crack any second now.

Landon stepped slowly into the gap he backed out of only moments ago, sensing that I was about to completely lose it any second now. He raised his thumbs to my face and wiped away the few tears that had already breached the floodgates, disregarding his own.

"I know, babe. I don't want that either. But I also don't want anything bad to happen to you. Please don't ask me to continue sitting by and watching this, Sade. Not after seeing you like this. I don't even know what happened last night. You just disappeared for like an hour and when I found you, you couldn't even stand or tell me what happened."

He looked frightened, like he didn't actually want me to tell him what happened. I probably didn't need to anyway. My now multi-coloured skin silently spoke for me.

He lifted my chin gently to regain my eye contact which had since dropped back to the floor. Again, I instinctively cringed away from his touch like it was the most repulsive and painful experience ever. I didn't want to, but I had no control over my touch responses anymore.

He let my chin go and opted to pull me lightly into a hug instead, which is where I stayed and cried for a few minutes until Madden came walking into the bathroom and between my legs, also wanting a piece of the hugging action taking place in here. Landon rubbed the remaining tears out of my eyes before I picked Madden up into my arms, hugging him tightly to my chest like his innocence would somehow save me from the many pains I was currently feeling.

"Hey, kiddo. Should we all get ready to go walk down to watch the boys play? What do you reckon?" I needed a distraction. Footy was as good a distraction as anything I could imagine right now. "Should we ask Uncle Landon if he wants to come with us, Madden?" He looked like he needed it  just as much as I did.

There were no bruises on my face, so thankfully I didn't need to play expert make-up artist like my mother this time — a little work on my jawline, a hoodie and a scarf did the trick and covered the worst of it. It made me so self-conscious though, knowing it was all there so obviously around my neck, and I found myself developing a deeper respect and sympathy for my mother, knowing that this was how she must have felt most days of her life with my stepfather.

Mum wasn't expecting me to be there at the game, having spoken to Landon when we got home earlier that morning in my inebriated state. I don't remember the conversation at all. She knew something was wrong, but she didn't hassle me with questions. She just hugged me and took Madden so I could just be alone with Landon for a while. She hugged Landon when we arrived too, like there was some newfound connection between the two of them that I wasn't privy to. Maybe when they talked in the early hours of the morning he said more than I thought he must have. I really didn't know. But I loved that she liked him.

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