Chapter 1

Charlotte Matthews sat across from her boyfriend of three years in a booth toward the back of a Chicago diner. She stared down at her watch and tried not to flinch as she was being questioned in a malicious whisper. Tears threatened to spill upon hearing the insults, but Charlotte knew better than to let him see her cry, knowing he would punish her later if she made him look bad in public. Sitting there she became lost in thought, mulling over what her life had become. She had always told herself that she would demand respect from any men in her life, that she wouldn’t end up in the same situation as the women that she had read about or watched on television. She told herself that any man who laid a hand on her would never have the chance to touch her again, but sitting there in that diner she realized that she had become exactly what she told herself she would never be. At the young age of 24 she realized that she had spent the past three years being dragged along behind a man, manipulated and abused. Before she could think any more about her situation she was snapped out of it by Max snapping at her with an incredibly annoyed look on his face.

“Charlotte? Are you listening to me?” he asked, the disdain in his voice thick and unforgiving.

“Yeah, sorry, what were you saying?” she responded, fearful of what his question might be and even more fearful of the repercussions of her not paying attention to him.

“I said, have you called your mother lately?” he asked, gritting his teeth in disgust and reminding Charlotte of the fact that she was lying to her entire family about her relationship.

“No, but I plan on calling her tonight,” she replied. Her mother would be furious if she found out what was actually happening to her only daughter. Charlotte had considered telling her family many times, but always backed out, knowing that Max would find out and do worse thing to her than he already was.

“Make sure to tell her about our recent trip to Colorado,” he demanded, reminding her of the trip they had taken a few weeks ago and making her cringe internally at the events that had taken place. As Charlotte expected, Max went out to a bar without her and brought home another girl. Charlotte was used to hiding in a closet or a bathroom when Max brought home another girl. She had gotten in the way once, and still had the scar to prove it.

“Okay,” she replied. Just then a group of men entered the diner and while Max turned to look at them, she did the same. They seemed familiar, though she wasn’t sure why. There were three of them, a shorter man with curly blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, a taller man with brunette hair that flipped out at the end and what looked to be missing teeth. Finally there was another man, the tallest of the three with short light brown hair and brown eyes that reminded her of the golden retriever that she owned when she was a little girl. The men had a unique presence, like they knew the staff well and could get whatever they wanted, which intrigued Charlotte. Max turned back around, obviously not interested in them anymore. Charlotte quickly diverted her gaze back to her watch, knowing what would happen if Max caught her staring. The men were being lead back near the couple and ended up sitting in a booth adjacent to max and Charlotte’s. As the men were ordering their drinks, Max waved their waitress over and asked for the check. When the waitress left to retrieve it, Max turned to Charlotte and lowered his voice.

“You brought your wallet, right?” he asked, to which Charlotte nodded and reached into her purse to grab some cash. She couldn’t help but notice the man with the golden retriever eyes looking at her with a confused expression, but she quickly turned back to the table, and he did the same. The waitress returned and handed the check to Max, who would have to go the front to pay. He stood up to pay, but not before warning her with his eyes. She looked down quickly and began getting her purse together and took off her jacket, knowing it was warmer outside than it was in the diner. It was then that she remembered the bruises on her arms and as quickly as she could she pulled her jacket back on and zipped it up as far as possible, looking around to see if anyone had seen her without the jacket on.

“Hey, are you okay?” one of the men at the table asked her. She knew that he must have seen her arms and she cursed to herself before turning to him.

“Yes, I’m fine,” she replied. She didn’t want to sound rude but she knew she had to keep it short or else Max would see the exchange and punish her. Luckily, the man seemed to drop it and turned back to his menu, though she noticed him gazing at her, especially as Max returned to the table and grabbed hold of her wrist tightly to lead her out of the diner, earning a few looks that, luckily, Max didn’t seem to notice.
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This is my first story so it may be a little rough but I hope you like it! Comments are welcome and greatly appreciated:)