Chapter 3

Charlotte jumped out of the pickup truck, walking as fast as she could into the grocery store. She didn’t want to keep Max waiting.

Scanning the aisles, Charlotte picked up what she needed to make all of Max’s favorite dishes and an abundance of alcohol. She made her way up to the front of the store, praying that Max’s card worked this time. The tiny brunette jumped in line behind a woman who was handling two young children.

The woman finished up and as the cashier was scanning Charlotte’s items, she looked around and spotted one of the men that was at the diner the day before. She quickly hid her face and hoped he wouldn’t notice her.

She swiped the card when the cashier gave her the go ahead and prayed while it processed, but to no avail. It didn’t work, and Charlotte had no doubt that it wouldn’t. An argument between her and the cashier ensued and she tried to keep her voice down to try to keep attention away from her.

Terror took hold of her when she felt a hand come down on her shoulder, thinking Max had joined her in the store. She turned quick on her heel and breathed out a sigh of relief when she saw that the hand didn’t belong to Max. However, she wasn’t much more relieved when she saw the person to which the hand belonged.

She recognized his golden retriever eyes first, and then she realized that he had been in the diner the day before and she tried not to panic. Max didn’t like when people recognized her. He thought for sure she would make a friend and leave him or they would ask too many questions and she would be much too willing to answer.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you, I was just going to offer to pay for your groceries since your card isn’t working,” he offered, quirking his mouth up on one side. Charlotte didn’t know what to say initially, but she decided to be polite and decline, partly because she knew Max wouldn’t want anyone to help her.

“You really don’t need to do that,” she stated, knowing it came out sounding rather harsh, but she knew the longer she took the angrier Max became.

“No, really, I want to,” he informed, grabbing his wallet and swiping his card in the machine. She was bagging her own groceries, trying to get out of there as fast as she could.

“Thank you,” she mumbled before hastily making her way out of the store and into the parking lot. Max was parked over on the far side and Charlotte knew he wouldn’t move to get her. All of a sudden the weight in one of her bags decreased significantly and she looked down to the ground to see that her fruit had fallen through the bag, spilling over the pavement. “Shit,” she exclaimed, louder than she intended to.

She was soon joined on the ground by the man that paid for her groceries. He handed her the fallen fruit and introduced himself. “I’m Jonathan,” he stated. Charlotte simply nodded, wishing she could introduce herself, but knowing that she shouldn’t. She could hardly bear to not say anything, so she thanked him again and took off for the truck, leaving Jonathan standing there alone.

The yelling began the moment she opened the door and she knew it wouldn’t stop until they got home. Pulling out of the lot, Charlotte couldn’t help but steal a glance back at the store, looking for Jonathan, but all she saw was the back of his head as he was walking back toward his car.


Charlotte had never been religious as a child, but throughout her relationship with Max she found herself praying frequently. She had prayed last weekend when Max started throwing plates at her after she forgot to put ketchup on his cheeseburger. She prayed three days before that incident when he forced her down and tied her to the bedposts, hitting her all over as he unbuckled his belt buckle. And she was praying now, as Max yelled at her with slurred words, a nearly empty bottle of whiskey in one hand. Max came close and grabbed Charlotte’s shirt with his free hand and threw her down on the ground. He finished off the whiskey, throwing the bottle across the kitchen and turning his attention back to her. He kneeled down to her, taking her tear stricken face in his hands and coddling it as if she were a child. Charlotte panicked, knowing that he was about to flip. Max did just that and spit at her, pushing her face away from him and kicking her in the ribcage.

“Come on, you ugly bitch, did you really think I was going to let up on you?” he slurred, walking to the refrigerator and grabbing a bottle of beer. He knelt down again and grabbed a fistful of her hair, pulling her up and dragging her to the bedroom, ripping her shirt and slapping her across the face when he had successfully thrown her on the bed. Charlotte whimpered and moved her hands up to her stinging cheek, but Max wasn’t finished with her yet. He grabbed her wrists roughly and turned her around so he was holding them behind her back with one hand. He ripped their underwear down and once he was finished he went to lie in bed.

Charlotte crumpled at the foot of the bed, a pile of tears as she replayed what had just happened over and over. She crawled into bed and moved as far away from him as possible without falling out of bed. She kept herself awake that night, thinking about if she would ever leave Max. Plan after plan went through her mind, being dismissed just as quickly as she thought them up. This was her life, and the truth was, she wouldn’t know what to do without Max.