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The music was turned down low as Kevin slowly drove through the parking lot of the diner, choosing a spot near the entrance. Sarah sat quietly in the passenger seat as Kevin put the car in park and turned off the ignition. Frowning to herself, she shifted in her seat, wincing a little from the pain in her lower back. The pain was mostly due to standing on her feet all day but some of it was triggered by the bruise that Keith had left on her back from the night before. Having a fight with Keith was a daily occurrence, but Sarah hid the evidence well with her tough exterior and her choice of modest clothing. Nobody knew of the battles she fought every day, but over the years, she suspected that Kevin was starting to catch on. Keith wasn’t Kevin’s favorite person and he was never shy about his opinion. Sarah was confident that if Kevin ever found out what really went on behind closed doors, he’d want Keith dead. However, instead of adding on to her own problems, she chose to keep Kevin in the dark for as long as she possibly could.

Letting out a weary sigh, she undid her seatbelt and opened the door, grabbing her purse that sat on the floorboard. A part of herself was looking forward to hanging out with Kevin but the other part was dreading coming home late after work. His moods were unpredictable and it often varied upon how many beers he’d drank prior to his emotional outbursts. She frowned as she dug into her purse and pulled out her blue Nokia phone, glancing at the screen and contemplating on whether she should call home or not. If Keith knew who she was with, he’d be furious. Keith’s jealous personality has always been a problem in their relationship and Kevin was the one person he despised the most. Sarah tightly pressed her lips together as she put the phone back in her purse, deciding against calling him. It wasn’t worth the risk of ruining time with her only close friend and it certainly wasn’t worth more bruises that would be left behind after the fight. Closing her eyes for a moment, Sarah sucked in a sharp breath as the muscles in her back tensed up and put pressure on her bruise. She exhaled slowly and glanced over at Kevin who was observing her from his position in the driver’s seat.

“You okay?” he asked softly, creasing his brow in concern.

Sarah slowly nodded as she forced herself to look him in the eyes. “I’m good. Just worn out. It’s been a really long day,” she said as she jumped at the sound of her phone buzzing in her purse.

Sarah quickly opened her purse, grabbed the phone, and looked at the caller ID. She let out a breath of relief when she saw that it was a 1-800 number. It was probably a bill collector, but it was better than Keith calling. She shoved the phone back in her purse and glanced back at Kevin, who was still eyeing her suspiciously.


Sarah nodded, zipped up her purse, and frowned as she glanced over at him. “Kevin’s, everything’s fine. I was just checking to see if Keith called.”

Kevin raised his brow as he shoved his keys into his pocket. “Did he?”

“No...he didn’t call,” she replied softly.

“Good,” Kevin said flatly.

Sarah rolled her eyes and sank down in her seat. “Kevin, don’t start.”

“What? The guy’s a prick and I don’t understand why you’re still with him.

Sarah groaned as she hung her right leg out the passenger door. “Are we going in or what?”

“Just a second,” Kevin said as he leaned closer to her, opening the glove compartment. “I should probably wear my hat,” he said as he dug his hand inside.

Sarah bit her bottom lip as she observed the chiseled profile of his face. The faint scent of his cologne wafted over her. The musky fragrance enticed her for a moment as he casually pressed his shoulder into hers, pulling the hat out of the glove compartment and shutting it before slipping the hat onto his head.

“Ready when you are,” he said as he opened the driver’s door and clicked the lock button.

Sarah smiled as she slid out of the passenger seat and shut the door behind her, pulling the bottom of her T-Shirt to cover her backside as she walked with Kevin to the door. Like a true gentleman, he opened the door for her and let her go in first. A soft breeze from the air conditioner blew over her head as she glanced over her shoulder at Kevin who was close behind. The smell of fresh coffee reached her nose as they waited at the hostess stand. She took a moment to observe her surroundings and felt herself begin to relax a little. There was no crowd to disturb their quiet get together. The place was pretty vacant, aside from a few college students sitting at various tables with books and notepads sprawled out in front of them. There was a quiet chatter coming from a nearby waitress offering refills on coffee and the clatter of the kitchen workers washing dishes and preparing food. Sarah drew her attention at the hostess as she approached them with a welcoming smile.

“Table for two?” she asked as she gathered the menus.

“Yes, table for two,” Kevin replied softly and tilted his head back, arching his neck in the direction of the back room that’s normally reserved for parties. “Could we maybe have a table in that back room where there aren’t any people?” he asked as he lifted his Kentucky ballcap just a little. He smiled at the waitress as she grinned at him. “Would that be possible?”

The hostess giggled as she nodded, gripping the menus tighter against her chest. It was obvious that she was a fan. “I can do that,” she said as she beamed happily and turned around to lead them to the party room, seating them at a table in the corner. “I’ll let your server know you’re back here,” she said quietly.

“Thank you very much,” Kevin said with a soft smile, grabbing the pen that was in her hand before reaching for a napkin and scribbling his name across it. “It’s greatly appreciated, uh…,” he said as he looked at her nametag. “Jennifer. We appreciate this, Jennifer,” he said as he handed her the napkin.

“It’s no problem at all,” she said with a nervous giggle and walked away, clutching the napkin in her hand.

Sarah rolled her eyes and looked over at Kevin. “Smooth, Mr. Big Shot.”

“Fame has its perks,” Kevin said as he pulled out a chair and gestured for Sarah to sit down.

Sarah shook her head while smiling at him. “You’re a snob.”

“I am not and you know it,” he said as he gestured again for her to sit down.

Sarah smiled appreciatively and sat down. “Thank you,” she said as he slid the chair under her.

“You’re welcome,” Kevin replied and took a seat across from her.

A few moments later, their server came with glasses of water. Kevin looked at the menu for a moment then handed it back to the waitress. “I’ll have a pot of coffee and a slice of apple pie.”

“You want ice cream with that?” the waitress asked as she jotted down his order.

“No ice cream,” he said as he looked at Sarah. “And whatever she’d like.”

“Just a coffee and a cinnamon roll with extra icing,” Sarah said as handed the waitress her menu.

“Alright, I’ll have that out shortly,” the waitress replied and walked away with the menus.

“Thanks for coming out with me,” Kevin said as he undid his silverware bundle.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Sarah said as she looked at the waitress who had returned with a pot of coffee and quickly departed.

“We were long overdue for some friend time,” Kevin said with a smile.


“So what’s new?” Kevin asked as he grabbed the coffee pot and poured some into his mug.

“Nothing’s new,” Sarah said as she held up her mug to let Kevin pour coffee into it.

“I find that hard to believe,” Kevin said as he filled her mug and set the pot back down on the table.

Sarah shrugged as she poured half and half into her coffee. “All I ever do is work,” she replied with a sigh.

“Maybe that’s the problem,” Kevin said with a raised brow.

Sarah rolled her eyes as she stirred sugar into her mug. “Like I have a choice,” she muttered. “I’ve got bills to pay.”

“I thought you were getting a promotion,” Kevin asked as he took a sip of his coffee.

Sarah clenched her jaw and sighed to herself, not wanting to relive the stressful events that occurred earlier in the day. “It’s hard to say if that will happen or not. We’ll see,” she said flatly.

“You don’t really seem that happy to be working there,” Kevin said as he raised his mug back up to his lips. “That’s not good, Sar.”

“Yeah, well, it’s no Disney, but it pays my bills,” she said with a shrug.

“Come on, Sarah. There’s more to life than working and paying bills. Do you want me to make some calls and see if you can get your old job back at Disney?”

Sarah frowned as she recollected memories from working there. She loved working as Snow White but just like everything else in her life, Keith managed to ruin it for her by fracturing her wrist with a baseball bat. Her chest tensed up as she thought about the horrific event and took another long sip of her coffee.

“Kevin, do you really think they’d hire me back after I failed to show up for work two days in a row? You and I both know they wouldn’t. Let’s face it, I screwed it up.”

“It wasn’t your fault that you got into that car accident and landed in the hospital. Maybe they’ll reconsider.”

Sarah closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head, her stomach sinking with guilt for lying to him in the first place. Kevin had no idea what really happened that day and she hated keeping the truth from him. Letting out a deep sigh, she set her mug down and rubbed her temples before glancing over at him.

“I really don’t want to talk about work right now,” she said wearily.

Kevin nodded as he held a hand up in submission. “Alright, this a work free conversation.”

“Thank you,” Sarah said she took a sip of her coffee.

“So how’s rehearsal for the tour going?” she asked with a smirk.

“I thought we weren’t talking about work,” Kevin said with a laugh.

Sarah returned the laughter and shrugged her shoulders. “Your work doesn’t count because it’s your life.”

“Fair enough,” Kevin said as the waitress brought them their food. He gave a nod of appreciation and focused back on Sarah. “It’s gonna be our best tour for sure,” he said as he took a bite of his pie.

“You think so?” Sarah said as she began tearing apart her cinnamon roll with her fingers.

“Yeah, we got all the kinks worked out during the European tour so the US tour is going to be amazing. Lots of cool surprises,” Kevin said with a soft smile as he observed her tearing apart her pastry. “What in the world are you doing to that cinnamon roll?”

Sarah looked at him and sheepishly chuckled as she licked the icing off her fingers. “Making my entire cinnamon roll gooey by smothering the edges with the excess icing.”

“You’ve massacred it,” Kevin said with a belly laugh.

Sarah looked down at her misshapen cinnamon roll and laughed. “Don’t make fun of my procedure,” she said as she continued to pull it apart. “It works best when it’s fresh. The icing oozes on every inch of dough,” Sarah instructed then looked up at Kevin who was smiling at her. She felt her cheeks burn and rolled her eyes. “Stop making fun of me,” she said as she wiped her fingers with a napkin and threw it at him.

Kevin laughed and threw the napkin back at her. “You’re weird but you’ve my friend and I love you anyway.”

Sarah’s cheeks burned hotter as she began eating her cinnamon roll with a fork. “Thanks,” she said quietly.

“So you should come see the show when we come back to Orlando in December.”

Sarah looked at him, her stomach sinking a little. She never openly admitted it, but she hated when Kevin was away. Being without him made it harder for her to handle her relationship with Keith. A frown slowly settled into her face as she stared down at her cinnamon roll, suddenly no longer having the appetite to consume it. Sarah forced herself to look at him. She sat back in her chair and idly picked at the cinnamon roll with her fork.

“I forgot you were going back on tour soon. You’ve only been home like three weeks and now you’re leaving to tour the U.S.”

Kevin nodded, his eyes locking with hers. He tilted his head in concern. “You seem bothered by that.”

Sarah sucked in a deep breath, trying to control the sudden urge to cry. She swallowed the lump in her throat. “I just miss you when you’re busy,” Sarah admitted as she stared at Kevin. She offered him a forced smile, knowing it didn’t reach her eyes.

Kevin set his fork down and stared deeper into her eyes, leaning in slightly as he kept his focus on her. “What is really bothering you?”

Sarah creased her brow and shook her head. “Kevin--,” she said, slightly jumping at the touch of his hand on top of hers.

“What’s going on?” he asked as he gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

Sarah sighed as she slid her hand away from his and caught a tear before it could fall down her cheek. “Don’t worry about it.”

“You know I can’t do that,” he said softly, leaning back in his chair. “Should I take you back to your car?”

She sniffled and inhaled deeply as she reluctantly nodded. “I...um...I should probably get home anyway.”

Kevin frowned as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet, opening it, and laying a 50 dollar bill on the table. “Alright, let’s go,” Kevin said with a serious tone.

Sarah scowled as she watched him stand up, regretting the fact that she allowed herself to grow emotional in front of him.

“We don’t really have to go,” Sarah said meekly as she looked down at the cinnamon roll that she’d barely eaten.

Kevin stepped over to her side of the table and gently picked up her plate. “Come on. We’ll get a box on the way out,” he said in a gentle tone.

Sarah let out a sigh as she stood up from her chair, wincing a little as a surge of pain went through her back. She grunted softly as she slowly straightened her back and made her way to the front entrance. Kevin stopped by the hostess stand and politely asked for a box. The hostess took the plate from him and promptly returned with the cinnamon roll inside a take out box. He politely thanked the hostess and led Sarah outside to the car. Kevin wordlessly unlocked the car and Sarah slid into the passenger seat, clenching her jaw as the movement triggered more pain in her back. As she settled into her seat, she fastened her seatbelt and hesitated to look at Kevin as he backed out of the parking lot and headed back to the main road. She wasn’t sure if he was upset or focused on getting her back to her car.

Sarah slowly glanced over at him as they stopped at a red light and he reached over to adjust the dial on the air conditioner, turning the fan on low. “Is that too cold?” he asked as he raised the temperature a little.

“No, it’s fine,” she mumbled as she slumped down in her seat.

“You sure?” he asked as the light turned green and he followed the traffic in front of him.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Sarah said as she focused on the street lights they had passed by.

Kevin turned up the music a little bit and hummed along to the radio as he continued to drive back to her car. Despite his calm demeanor, Sarah couldn’t help but to sense that he was holding in his true emotions, which he was notorious for doing. Clasping her hands in her lap, she exhaled silently. Kevin turned down the next street which lead them in the direction of her work. He slowed down to take a right hand turn and maneuvered his car close to hers and put it in park. Sarah timidly looked at him as he turned off the ignition and glanced her way.

“I’ll wait here until I know you’re safe in your car and headed home.”

Sarah slowly nodded, not wanting to move from her spot in the passenger seat. “We really didn’t have to come back so soon.”

Kevin shrugged as he relaxed in his seat. “It’s fine. I have rehearsal early in the morning anyway.”

“Right…,” Sarah said as she undid her seatbelt, leaning in closer to give him a quick one arm hug.

“Call me tomorrow,” Kevin said. “Maybe we can do dinner or something.”

Sarah smiled softly as she opened the passenger door. “I’d like that.”

“Good night,” he said softly.

“Good night,” she echoed, shutting the car door and swiftly turning around to get in her car.

She unlocked the car and slid into the driver’s seat, frowning as she shut the door. She didn’t really like how she ended the night with Kevin. She knew he would be pressing her with more questions in the future but right now, she couldn’t handle any more emotional stimulation.

Letting out a deep sigh, she put her key in the ignition and turned it. The car sputtered and the engine refused to turn over. Sarah clenched her jaw as she kept turning the key, hoping it would start. Pressing harder on the brake pedal, the car continued to sputter with no sign of life within the engine.

“Dammit,” Sarah whispered to herself as she tried to start it once again.

This time, the car started but it died before she could put it in reverse. Sarah frowned as she glanced in the rearview mirror. Kevin was still waiting in his car. She knew he wouldn’t leave until she was out of the parking lot. Kevin was too much of a gentleman to leave her stranded, especially at night.

Sarah pressed her foot on the brake pedal and gave it one more try. The car sputtered and quickly died with a loud rattle that came from under the hood. Sarah groaned to herself as she slumped back in her seat. She let out a silent sob as she banged her hand against the steering wheel in frustration.

“Fucking piece of shit car!” she shouted as she allowed herself to release her frustration through a river of tears.

As she continued to sob, she heard the sound of someone knocking on her window. Wiping her face off with her hands, she looked up to see Kevin peering into the window, motioning for her to roll the window down. Exhaling softly, she grabbed the handle and cranked it down. He bent down, resting his arm on the roof of her car. His eyes softened as he observed the tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Car won’t start?” he asked in a gentle tone.

Sarah shook her head as she turned her face away from him, embarrassed that she’s falling apart in front of him. “Nope,” she said as she tried to choke back her hiccups in between the tears and sniffles.

“Has this been an issue for a while?”

Sarah nodded as she wiped her face with her hands. “I’ve been having this issue for weeks,” she said as she sniffed and looked at him. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Kevin nodded empathetically. “Come on, let me take you home.”

Sarah shook her head as she continued to sniffle. “You don’t have to do that. I can call Keith to come get me,” she said as she shakily rummaged through her purse and pulled her cell phone out.

“Sarah, we both know he won’t do that,” Kevin said flatly.

“I just don’t want to inconvenience you by taking me home and then turning around to your place that’s on the opposite side of town.”

Sarah frowned as Keith’s phone went straight to voicemail. She glanced over at Kevin as he reached into the car and gently took the phone from her, hitting the end call button with his thumb before opening the driver’s door.

“First of all,” he said as he offered her his hand. “You’re never an inconvenience,” he said softly. “And second of all, stop being so stubborn and let me take you home. Your car will be fine. If I need to, I’ll call a tow truck in the morning and have it towed to your house.”

Sarah sighed as she took his hand and let him lead her out of the car, bending down to roll the window back up before locking it shut. Kevin observed her for a moment and gently put his arm around her shoulders, leading her back to his car. He opened the passenger door and let her get situated before shutting the door and moving to the driver’s side. Sarah ran a weary hand over her face and inhaled deeply as she felt overwhelmed by a multitude of emotions.

Kevin remained silent as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the direction to her house. Sarah leaned against the passenger door and stared out the window, feeling helpless as the tears continued to flow down her cheeks. Her breath trembled as she tried to take hold of her emotions, but every time she fought it, her chest would tighten and the sobs would start all over again. Sarah hiccupped and the pain in her back surged up her spine. She doubled over and covered her face with her hands as she continued to cry. Grabbing a pack of travel tissues from out of her purse, she gently wiped her nose and balled her fists in her lap, unable to stop her tears.

Within a few minutes, she felt Kevin slow his car down and put it in park. Sarah sluggishly lifted her head to see that they were parked in front of her house. Kevin undid his seatbelt and placed his hand on her back, rubbing it in soothing circles. Sarah closed her eyes and focused on the familiar touch of his hand. She wiped her face again with the tissue and lifted her head, staring blankly at the dark driveway in front of them.

“I’m sorry…,” she whispered in between sniffles.

“For what?” Kevin asked in a voice barely above a whisper.

Sarah shook her head as she covered her face. “For being a hot mess tonight.”

“It’s fine,” Kevin said as he stopped the circular motion and kept his hand steady on her back. “I just wish you’d tell me what’s going on.”

“It’s really complicated, Kevin,” Sarah said as she forced herself to sit up straight while wiping her nose again.

“Sarah, how long have we been friends?”

Sarah sighed as she looked at him. “Almost seven years.”

“And in that time, have you ever been able to not talk to me?”

Sarah frowned as she slouched down in her seat and shook her head. “No,” “she mumbled.

“So why start now?”

Sarah closed her eyes and turned her face away from him as the tears began to pour out once more. She heard Kevin sigh as he turned off the ignition and his headlights. He reached over and undid her seatbelt and gently pulled her closer to him. She turned to face him and instinctively buried her head into his shoulder.

“It’s so complicated, Kev…,” she whispered.

“What is?” he asked as he rested his cheek on the top of her head.

“Things with Keith…”

“Hmmm,” Kevin as he exhaled sharply through his nose.

Sarah gripped the sides of Kevin’s T-shirt and blinked tears against his shoulder. “I want to tell you, but I can’t…,” she admitted, her voice cracking with every syllable of her statement.

Kevin exhaled noisily as he cupped one hand over the back of her head. “It may be out of line for me to say this but...you deserve so much more than Keith.”

Sarah swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded wordlessly as her body trembled through a fresh flow of tears. Kevin shifted his position and gently pried her away from him and cupped his hands around her cheeks. His green eyes sparkled against the light of the streetlamp that shone through the windshield. Sarah blinked against her tears, her chin trembling as he gently wiped the tears with the pads of his thumbs.

“It hurts me to see you cry,” he whispered as his own eyes began to mist in sadness.

Sarah grimaced as she looked into his eyes. “Don’t make me feel worse than I already do,” she whispered.

Kevin looked down and shook his head. “I’m not trying to make you feel bad, Sar. I just--,” he paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. “I just need to know you’re going to be okay while I’m gone.”

Sarah creased her brow and shrugged her shoulders. “I can’t make any promises…”

Kevin stared at her in silence for a moment before his eyes diverted down to her lips. Sarah held her breath for and found herself naturally leaning in closer as his lips gently pressed against hers. He moved his hands away from her face and wrapped his arms around her as he deepened the kiss. Sarah melted in his embrace as she felt every ounce of her emotional weight being lifted by the taste of his lips. She felt him tighten his embrace as they kissed and felt his arm press against the bruises on her back. Sarah winced in pain as she pulled back from the kiss, gasping as her back muscles tensed up.

“Shit,” she muttered as she placed her hand on her back and nervously glancing over at the front door of her house, hoping that Keith couldn’t see them inside the car.

“I’m sorry,” Kevin said softly. “I shouldn’t have done that…”

Sarah released a slow breath as she brushed the hair out of her face. “I should go,” she said softly, feeling torn between awkwardness and yearning for another kiss from Kevin.

“Right,” he said with a sigh and sank down into his seat. “Call me tomorrow?”

“I promise,” Sarah said as she leaned in to give him a quick hug. “Good night.”

“Good night,” he said and returned the hug.

Sarah let go of him and opened the passenger door, leaning forward as she slid both legs out of the car. As she bent down to collect her purse, she felt the back of her T-Shirt raise, exposing a little bit of bare skin. The overhead light came on as she planted her feet onto the driveway and she felt Kevin gently grab her by the crook of her arm. Sarah turned her head and glanced at him from over her shoulder. Her eyes locked with his as he furrowed his brow and lifted the back of her shirt, revealing two large bruises that she had been hiding all night. Sarah sucked in a breath as he traced his fingers down the tender spots of the bruises. His silence made her nervous and she couldn’t conjure up anything to say.

“Did he do this to you?” he asked, his voice thick with anger.

“Kevin, it’s not what you think. I--”

“Stop lying to me,” he sternly interrupted.

Sarah blinked in shock at the tone of his voice. He had never spoken to her that way before. Her stomach turned with guilt as she thought back to all the lies she had told him over the years. She wasn’t sure how she was going to get herself out of this mess. She felt that no matter what she did, she would risk losing Kevin and that was the last thing she wanted to happen.

“Did he do this to you?” he repeated.

Sarah looked into his eyes and slowly nodded as she moved away from him, pulling her shirt back over the bruises. “I told you it was complicated…”

“Sarah, this isn’t complicated. This is abuse! Why are you staying with him?”

“I don’t have a choice, Kevin,” she said as she began to cry again.

“Why haven’t you talked to me about this? I could’ve helped you.”

“For God’s sake, Kevin, I’m not yours to rescue!” she shouted in between sniffles.

Kevin looked away from her and stared at the house, shaking his head as he clenched his jaw. “He should not be putting his hands on you, Sarah.”

“Kevin, it’s my problem and I’ll handle it. I’m begging you to stay out of it.”

“How do you expect me to stay out of it? Look at what he’s done to your back!”

Sarah held her hand up and stared at him. “If you get involved, it’s going to make things worse,” she said as she inched her way to the passenger door. “Like I said, it’s my problem and I’ll handle it.”

Kevin pulled his glance back towards her. “I know I can’t force you to leave him but if I swear to God if I find out he put his hands on you again, I’ll kick his ass and call the cops.”

Sarah slid out of the car and turned around to look at him. “I’ll figure something out,” she said softly. “I just need some time.”

Kevin exhaled as he turned on his ignition. “Just call me tomorrow, okay?”

“I will. I promise,” Sarah said as she straightened herself up and shut the door, giving Kevin a wave as she walked in front of the car.

He turned on his headlights as she walked up the driveway and to the front door. She turned the doorknob and frowned as she discovered that the door was locked. Fishing for her keys at the bottom of her purse, she pulled them out and unlocked the door and stepped inside the dark house. Shutting the door behind her, she slipped off her shoes and placed her purse on the coat rack that hung on the wall. Sighing to herself, she quietly went into the kitchen and placed her cinnamon roll box on the counter and opened the refrigerator for a bottle of water. She grimaced as she twisted the cap off and took a long swig of water before shutting the refrigerator door. Sarah quietly walked out of the kitchen and wandered through the living room, making her way down the hall to the bedroom. Shadows of light danced from underneath the door and she sighed, knowing that Keith was in there watching TV. She carefully opened the door and stepped inside the bedroom where she saw Keith lying on the bed with the remote in her hand. He lifted his head from off the pillow and looked at her with obvious signs of irritation on his face.

“Where the hell have you been?” he asked as he sat up.

“I went to get coffee with a friend from work,” Sarah said casually as she stepped into the walk-in closet for a change of clothes.

“What friend?” he asked in a louder voice.

Sarah rolled her eyes as she rummaged through the small basket of clean clothes that sat on the floor of the closet. “My new co-worker Rachel. Is that a problem?” she asked as she pulled out an oversized T-Shirt and draped it over her arm as she returned to the bedroom, setting the shirt on the dresser as she began removing her jewelry.

Keith slowly sat up and turned off the TV. He slid off the bed and stood behind her, staring at her in the mirror as she took her earrings off. Sarah stared at his reflection and frowned as he began kissing her neck. She cringed at the touch of his lips and gently moved away from him.

“Keith, I’m exhausted,” she said as she took off her necklace and set it in her jewelry box.

“Come on, Baby, you know you want it,” he said as he grabbed her ass.

Sarah jumped and turned around to face him, scrunching her nose at the smell of alcohol on his breath. “You’re drunk,” she said as she went into the bathroom.

“That’s never stopped us before,” he said as he stood in the bathroom doorway.

Sarah scowled as she removed her clothes and tossed them into the hamper. She took her hair out of the hair tie and redid her bun before pulling the oversized T-Shirt over her head and brushed past him as she turned the bathroom light off. She barely got three steps past him before he grabbed her by the waist, digging his fingers into her flesh.

“I’m getting what I want whether you like it or not.”

Sarah jerked herself away from him and shook her head. “Stop grabbing me, Keith. I’m not in the mood.”

Keith’s face contorted with anger as he raised his hand and slapped her across the face. Sarah gasped as pain surged through her cheek. She tried to push him away but he caught her hand and bent it behind her back and swinging her across the room. Sarah cried out in pain as her back slammed against the wall and picture frame fell down and hit the top of her head. Keith charged towards her and grabbed her by the throat, squeezing hard enough to restrict her airflow. Sarah coughed and gagged against his grip clutching his hand with both her hands and attempting to pry his hand away from her throat. Keith let go of her throat and she gasped for air as he grabbed her by the waist and lifted her up, carrying her to the bed. Sarah kicked and screamed as he threw her onto the bed and rolled her onto her stomach. Sarah sobbed as he lifted up her T-Shirt and laid on top of her.

“Get off of me!” she screamed, gripping the blankets as he forced himself inside of her.

“Shut up!” Keith commanded as he began to thrust forcefully.

“Keith, stop!” Sarah shouted as she buried her face into the blankets, sobbing uncontrollably.

Keith shoved her face into the blankets as he continued to violate her. Sarah cried against the blankets and allowed her body to go limp. A puddle of tears pooled beneath her cheek as she let her mind wander to a safe place. Within a few minutes, Keith groaned of release and shoved her off the bed as he plopped down on his stomach, sighing in a sickening satisfaction. Sarah cried as she crawled across the bedroom floor and made her way down the hallway into the living room. Forcing herself to her feet, she wearily walked over to the coat rack and grabbed her phone from her purse. She gripped it tightly in her hand as she continued to sob on her way into the spare bathroom located in the hallway. Flicking on the light, Sarah winced in pain as she observed her face and throat in the mirror. There were obvious marks on her skin and her body quaked as she looked at the phone in her hand.

Sarah conjured up the energy to shut the door and locked it. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor, sobbing as she hit the speed dial for Kevin’s number. The phone rang in her ear as she rubbed the tears off her cheeks.

“Hello?” his voice said over the phone.

“Help me…,” Sarah whispered and quickly hung up when she heard the sound of Keith shouting obscenities and banging on the bathroom door.