CHAPTER NINE

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He grabs Max by her hair, pulling her back and tossing he down the basement stairs. "No!" I shout, trying to reach out to catch her but he stops me.

"Mary, go down there with her," he orders my mother and she nods at him, going down to the basement and shutting the door behind her. "You live under my roof. Which means that you follow my rules."

He grabs my arms, hauling me to the bathroom once again. I look down at the yellow water and close my eyes, ready for whatever he had planned for me. He grabs the back of my head, dunking me into his piss. I hold my breath for as long as possible, trying not to breathe anything in. And that's when I feel the burning on the hot buckle against my back. It hurt worse than before since I wasn't entirely expecting it. I scream underwater.

This time, I wake up before the nightmare gets too bad. My breathing is erratic and feel a shift in the bed next to me.  I put my head in my hands in an attempt to catch my breath.

"Ian, are you okay?" I hear Mandy beside me and I close my eyes. I had forgotten she was there if I'm being honest. I just nod, running my hands through my hair slowly before looking over at her.

"Just nightmares."

"Do they happen often?"

I nod. "Almost every night." She looks me in my eyes, remorse written all over her face. "Amanda, I don't want you to think that what happened is your fault. Cause it isn't."

"And it isn't yours either. You didn't do anything to deserve that abuse." I look away from her. Although I had told her about this before, it was still hard to talk about.

"Let's just go get those pregnancy tests." She nods, getting up and quickly going over to the bedroom to freshen up, presumably. I take the opportunity to fix my bedhead, raking through my hair with my fingers.

    When she comes out, she nods at me, indicating that she's ready. She puts on her shoes and so do I. I then grab my wallet, phone, and keys and we head out of the room. In the car, she directs me to the nearest drugstore and we head inside. In the candy isle, I grab a Reeses for myself and one for Max. I felt bad about leaving her at Ash's last night but it was the only thing I could do. Then we head to the feminine isle. She picks out two pregnancy tests and then the pressure is on. The ride is silent on the way back to the hotel.

    Based on the answer to these tests, Amanda will let me help her out of this. I hope she does. I couldn't stand seeing her hurt.

    When we reach the hotel room, she heads straight for the bathroom with the tests. She's in there for a while and I use the time to text Becca and Anne, asking them if we can meet up. Becca offers up her house because it's easier since she has Andy and Anne and I agree. When I hear the bathroom door open after a few minutes, I hesitate to turn around. I guess a part of me already knows what the tests will say.

    When I turn around, she's staring down at the tests in her hand. I slowly approach her. "I..." She drifts off, looking up at me with tears in her eyes. I reach forward, taking the test into my hands. My breath catches. Two lines.

    Amanda's pregnant.

    With an abuser's baby.

    I meet her eyes, trying to decipher how she was feeling about this. Before I can speak, she breaks. She starts crying violently, falling against my chest. My arms automatically go around her. We sink to the ground, both of us on our knees as I hug her tight.

    "Shh, Mandy. We'll figure it out," I whisper as I kiss the top of her head.

    "I'm pregnant, Ian," she says through the tears.

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