Author: Priscilla West


“That must have been a bad nightmare. Do you remember it?”


I remembered it in more ways than one. It had been the breaking point with Marty. Our relationship had seemed good for a long time, but when he started getting abusive it got ugly fast. That had been over two years ago.


“Vincent, I think—” I faltered. There was no need to unload this story on him right now. I barely knew him; I had been handling Marty on my own for two years without any issue, I could keep handling him for a while longer.


He pulled me tightly against his bare chest. The warmth and hardness was immediately comforting. “It’s okay. Take a minute. You’re safe here.”


I traced my finger around one of his nipple rings. They were starting to grow on me. Again, he was right. I did need a minute because my heart was pounding. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t believe Marty had actually shown up at my apartment.


He began stroking my hair down to my nape. Slowly I felt myself relaxing. Vincent was really being amazing about this. It would have been easy to wake me up and then roll over, dismissing my unease, but the way he was holding me close and comforting me was perfect.


“What was your nightmare about?” he asked.


I thought about telling him, but I just couldn’t. It was too early in our relationship, or whatever it was we were doing. If I told him, he would probably feel like I was unloading way too much baggage way too quickly. He was already treating me differently than his other women. I didn’t want to push it.


“Nothing,” I said.


“You were thrashing around pretty hard for a dream about nothing.”


“I just mean I don’t remember.”


He said nothing for a few minutes, continuing to stroke my hair. Finally, he spoke. “If you don’t want to tell me, just say so, but please don’t lie to me. I hate being lied to.”


“Okay, fine, I don’t want to tell you.”


“Why?”


“Because this is our second date and things are already moving fast enough as it is.”


“The more you build this up the more I want to know. I want to be close to you. I thought that’s what you wanted. Not just casual dating and sex.”


I said nothing, thinking. It was sweet that he wanted to be close to me, but this was just too soon. Maybe I could just make something up. It would be lying again, but at least this situation would be resolved.


“There’s no point in obeying people’s arbitrary rules about dating or anything else, really,” he said. “You either feel safe with someone or you don’t. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together.”


I took a deep breath. “You really think for yourself, don’t you?”


“Telling people where to go with their arbitrary rules is one of the biggest reasons I am where I am.” He pulled me in tighter. “Which, I might add, is a pretty amazing spot right now.”


I smiled, but continued to say nothing. Could I really trust him not to run away when he found out about my past with Marty? He was saying all the right things, and I really didn’t have a reason to believe he was lying, but it all seemed too good to be true. My cautious side was blaring for me to slow down.


And yet, I probably wasn’t going to get a better chance to tell him about Marty than this moment. If he reacted badly, at least I would know that he was asking for me to tell him.


I pulled gently away. Here we go. “My ex-boyfriend showed up at my apartment today.”


He scrunched his brow. “Does this have something to do with your dream?”


“It was about him.”


He nodded, eyes still squinting. “So you still have feelings for him?”


I shuddered and he squeezed my shoulder. “No, no. Nothing like that. It’s just—”


I faltered again. He looked at me, concern etched on his face. I started to cry and had to take several deep breaths to calm myself down enough to speak. “He was kind of abusive,” I managed.


Vincent’s mouth thinned to a tight line, and I saw his jaw working. He inhaled sharply, features shifting in a way I’d never seen before. Would he think I was weak or, worse, helpless because I had been abused?


“What do you mean, kind of?”


When I didn’t say anything he shook his head, “It doesn’t matter, where does he live?” His eyes were alight with violent promise.


“No—I mean—I don’t know. Don’t hurt him Vincent, it’s not worth it.”


“You let me decide whether it’s worth it or not.”


I started crying harder. This wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. Vincent looked like he was ready to pound Marty’s head in. It was sweet that he was feeling protective of me, but getting violent wasn’t going to help anything. I hated violence.


When he saw me crying the hard lines in his face melted. He was breathing fast, but the fire in his eyes was mostly gone.


“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. What did he do to you, exactly?”


I shook my head. “Please don’t make me go into details. I’m through with him and he can’t hurt me anymore.” How would I explain getting caught in a relationship with a man who had borderline personality disorder? How he was so sweet at first, and very attentive, but then would snap at a moment’s notice? How he managed to hold it together for the outside world, but not with me? How it felt to beat yourself up over wanting to leave someone who had a legitimate mental illness they couldn’t really help?


“Okay, okay. You’re right. No need to dig up the past.” He didn’t say anything else, and I was grateful that he wasn’t pressuring me any more about this even though I could tell questions were running through his mind.


I put my ear back down onto his chest and draped my arm over him. After a moment, he hugged me close, his hand resting on my hip. “I haven’t spoken to him in years and somehow he knows where I live. It’s unsettling.”


“What happened when he came to your apartment?”


“Riley answered the door, and he told her he was looking for me. She texted me his description and I recognized it immediately. When I went to check on her I told her not to answer the door again.”


“It sounds like he might be dangerous. You should stay here with me until we get this worked out. Or I can put you up in a hotel.”


This was moving way too fast. I hadn’t told him about this so he could fix the problem for me. “No, Vincent. I can’t ask you to do that.”


“You’re not asking, I’m offering.”


I said nothing.


He sighed. “Fine. No hotel then. I’ll get you a security team. I know a couple of guys at Blackthorn Security, you’ll barely notice them.”


I shook my head.


“Think about it.” He looked intensely at me for a moment before speaking again. “Can you go to the police?”


“I doubt it. They wouldn’t do anything in Cambridge.”


“Figures. They’re never good for anything. What’s his name?” When he saw the look on my face he continued, “I won’t do anything to him, I promise.”


I wouldn’t have told him, but the solemn look on his face comforted me. Vincent wasn’t the kind of guy who made promises lightly.


“Martin Pritchard. I called him Marty.”


He nodded slowly. “Where did you meet him?”


“We dated all through college. He started out being really nice, but gradually got more and more possessive and jealous.”


“Did he hurt you?”


“Please don’t.” I took a deep breath, trying to quell the nausea I had begun to feel as I recalled my dream.


Vincent said nothing and we sat in silence for a couple minutes. “Please let me get you a security team. You’ll barely notice them, and they could save your life.”


“Vincent, I told you this because you wanted to know, not so you could solve this problem for me. I can deal with my own issues.” I was scared of Marty, but I really didn’t want to seem weak in front of Vincent, like a woman who needed saving. What if I counted on him and then he disappeared? I would only have myself to blame.


His jaw was working again, but he didn’t say anything for a minute. “Fine. Do you at least have some way to defend yourself if he tries to attack you? Mace, a knife, a gun, anything?”


My head spun at the thought of owning a deadly weapon. What kind of person did he think I was? “No. Why on earth would I own a gun?”


“Let’s get you something tomorrow. Not a gun, but something.”


I shrugged as hot tears began budding up in my eyes and running down my cheeks. He was listening, but he sounded very worried about this. I already regretted telling him. He wasn’t running away, which was good, but I didn’t want him to feel obligated, or like I was too weak to deal with this on my own.


Arm still around me, he rocked me onto my back so he was over me, brown eyes searching mine. “Kristen, I’m glad you told me about this. We can handle it however you want, okay?”


I nodded, though the tears were still coming thick. As the burden of the whole situation began to lift off my shoulders I realized how stressed I had been.


Vincent kissed away the tears rolling down my cheeks with soft little pecks. The way his muscles bulged as he cradled my head in his arms felt comforting. I really didn’t want to deal with this right now.


“Let’s forget about this for now,” I said. “We can go to the store tomorrow like you suggested. I’d prefer not to think about it anymore tonight.”


“Okay.” He continued kissing away the tears on my face, sprinkling in kisses on my forehead.


I shifted and felt his cock through his underwear with my leg. Even when he wasn’t hard, the size of his package was impressive.


He wasn’t aroused, but I was getting to be. I needed a distraction from this situation. I had an idea of how I wanted to distract myself as I reached down to grab him through his underwear.

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