1 The Meeting
“Why would you even pack something like this?” Levi yells at me, clutching the bikini I packed to use in the hotel’s pool in his hands. “When did you get this? Did some other guy buy it for you, because I sure as hell didn’t?”
I rolled my eyes, snatching the bikini from his hands. “I bought it for you, asshole. I thought we could use the hotel’s hot tub together later, but never mind.”
“You thought I would want to have you flaunting your body around other men like some w***e? Don’t lie to me, you brought that to show off for other men.”
“WHAT OTHER MEN!?” I yelled. I’m getting sick of having this same fight with him. He brought me on this trip to apologize for the way he freaked out on me at my work two weeks ago. He had just walked in to meet me for lunch when a customer helped me pick up loan papers I had dropped everywhere after accidentally tripping. He yelled at me, accusing me of cheating with the customer at the bank even though the guy's wife was there and had just stepped away to change their baby in the bathroom. I almost got fired over the incident. My boss moved me back to being a teller because of what happened, and I told Levi I needed space.
This is what he does. He flips out on me, accusing me of cheating, looking at other guys, goes crazy thinking guys are looking at me, we fight, take a break, then he comes back, saying he’s changed and feeds me some sob story about loving me too much. He claims he loves me too much and is scared he will lose me. I used to think it was cute 2 years ago when we first started dating in college. I liked it when he got jealous. I thought that was how he showed he loved me. Now, I hate it. I can’t stand his jealousy. I fall for his pity party every time, thinking he is being sincere and he will change, but he never does.
“Levi, I can’t do this. I’m not doing this with you again. You said you would stop, and you’re obviously not going to. I want to go home.”
“What?” The anger leaves his face, replaced with worry and fear. “Why? No, we just got here.”
“And it’s already become like this. I want to go home, Levi. I’m not going to sit in a hotel room and argue with you when we do enough of that at home. I want to go.”
“No,” he tries to reach for me, but I step back out of his reach, making his scowl return. “Bailey babe, I was….I was just mad at the bathing suite. I wasn’t mad at you. I don’t want to fight.”
“You just called me a w***e!”
“No, I said that wearing a bikini around other guys is something a w***e would do. I didn’t mean you were a w***e. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
I threw my hands up in the air, done and exasperated. “If you won’t take me home now, I’ll find my own way back. I’m serious, Levi. I’m done. I want to go home.”
He sneers, no longer maintaining his little pity act. “No. Find your own way back then. I paid for this hotel for the night. I’m going to enjoy it since you don’t appreciate the s**t I do for you.”
I grit my teeth in annoyance, “Fine.” I stuffed the few things I unpacked from my backpack back in it, including the bikini, then turned to leave. “Bye.”
“You better not come crawling back, Bailey! I’m serious! If you leave this room, I’m going to-”
I shut the door, cutting off the rest of his words. A loud bang indicates he just threw something at the wall. Or punched it. He punches walls a lot lately.
I sigh heavily and make my way down the hall to the lobby of the hotel before he calms down enough to follow after me. I really am done this time. I keep going back, but I don’t know why. His handsome face and decent body aren’t worth all this trouble. That's what attracted me to him in the first place. I thought I was lucky to have a good-looking guy like him interested in me. I’m a bit curvier, with thick hips and a heavier bust. I used to feel self-conscious in college when all my friends were model thin, wearing skimpy outfits and showing off skin without any hesitation. When you are built like me, with a heavy chest and round hips, you can’t wear the same clothes without being labeled either a slut or a fatty.
I tended to dress in nothing but t-shirts, hoodies and yoga pants or jeans, wearing larger sizes to hide my assets. It wasn’t until Levi started to show interest in me in my senior year that I started to feel comfortable in my skin.
Levi made me feel beautiful. He encouraged me to wear more flattering clothing, taking me shopping on our dates, dressing me, flaunting me around his friends with pride. I loved his attention. I loved the way I felt about myself being with him. When he would cling to me, telling his friends I was all his, then every curve and every dimple was his property, I thought those were terms of endearment. 2 years later, those words feel like chains he was trying to use to bind me to him.
He’s like an addiction. Every time I get fed up or think I’m done, he does something to make me feel like I did back then when we first started to date. I became addicted to that feeling of being treasured and cherished. It’s like he drip feeds me that sensation now. When I’m fed up and ready to leave him, he gives me another dose of my fix, making me think that he is what I need and who I deserve.
I know this isn’t healthy. I know I shouldn’t stay in a relationship where I’m clinging to the 5% of the time when he isn’t being a possessive asshole, but he makes that 5% overshadow the 95% of the time when he’s being unbearable somehow. I don’t know how he does it, but he makes it hard to leave him.
It took us several hours to drive here, and I’ve never been to this town before. It’s deep in the wilderness, a timber and gold mining town, but Levi said the town had decent views and hiking trails. I could care less about any of that now. I just want to go back home. I walk to the bus station at the center of town, checking the schedule posted outside.
Great. No buses until early in the morning. I could call a cab or maybe an uber, but it would be super expensive and I have 3 days until my next paycheck. I sighed and started walking back towards the hotel. I don’t want to go back to Levi, but I also don’t want to stay out here in the cold waiting for the next bus.
Walking back, I passed a bar that was just starting to get lively, the music from a live band drifting out into the cool night air.
One drink. Maybe two... If I have to go back and deal with Levi’s whining and bitching, I want to do it drunk.
Entering the bar, the first thing I noticed was the clientele was mostly bulking lumberjack-looking men, all with thick muscles and almost monstrous appearances. I didn’t even know men could get this big. And handsome. I’m salivating just looking around the room. They are all intimidating, and there are very few women around the bar. The ones who are here look much like the men; beautiful and fit. Is this part of the great views Levi was talking about? I'm intimidated, but I really am loving the view in here.
I’m about to turn to leave when a hand brushes my back, under my backpack and an electrical current shoots all over my skin.
“Excuse me,” a deep, husky voice pulled my attention, “I, uh, haven't seen you around here before.”