I’m lying down naked in a pool of my own blood.
Apollo is pulling up his pants. He looks down at me. He is shaking his head and has this disappointed expression on his face.
“I didn’t want to have to do that to you,” Apollo explains to me, “I didn’t want to have to take you like that. Damn. See what you made me do?”
I want to be mad but at that moment I just feel a void. I could never believe in a million years that I honestly loved Apollo and he would violate me like this. I never thought he would actually be the one to rape me. I’m shocked when it happens. My asshole is on fire lying there on the bathroom floor. I can still feel his dick inside of me tearing me apart. The blood is still fresh on the bathroom floor.
Apollo is still panting low and deep. He’s still sweating.
That’s when I hear someone walk into the bathroom. At first I’m not paying attention to it. I’m so gone that I don’t care who it is. It isn’t until I hear a small rage that I realize that Ryder has walked in on what just happened.
“What the fuck?” Ryder asks.
The fighting starts. Apollo swings at Ryder. He hits Ryder. He’s so fucking strong that I swear Ryder’s jaw has been broken. Ryder recovers relatively quickly though. He goes back after Apollo tackling him to the ground and attempting to pin him. Apollo gets the best of him. He is on top of Ryder. Apollo is so fucking strong. He’s so fucking powerful.
I know that I have to do something so I get on top of Apollo. I’m punching Apollo in the back of his head. He flings me across the room with one arm. I hit the wall hard but not before Ryder picks him up and slams Apollo’s entire body into the sink!
There is a crashing sound at that moment.
Apollo is laying on the ground.
“Is he dead?”
Apollo isn’t moving. Fuck. Apollo was dead. He was dead. My heart is racing at that moment as I’m standing over him.
Ryder reaches over to check his pulse, “No. He’s alive. Barely…but he’s alive…”
I don’t know how the fuck this happened. I don’t know how things got so crazy with him. It was self-defense though.
“We need to call the cops.”
“Are you crazy? He is the cops. He is the POLICE chief.”
Ryder had a point. We didn’t have a choice though. I knew Ryder wasn’t all about following the rules but this wasn’t even about the rules. If we just left Apollo here Apollo could die. That would be a murder on our hands. Lloyd would come back wondering where he was. My blood was all over this bathroom from Apollo violating me. They would be able to connect the dots. Maybe they wouldn’t have been able to know it was rape. Maybe they would have thought it was just a fight or something. Still they’d know I was involved.
There is no other choice. “We need to call them…”
Ryder nods, “OK.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“I’ll say me and Apollo got into a fight. I’m a Libra. I’m the heir to the High Liberty. They won’t charge me anything bad for attacking the police chief. You on the other hand…they would throw the book at you,” I respond.
“He FORCED himself on you.”
“You know they don’t care.”
“Call the cops and as soon as they show up, give them your statement and come back home,” Ryder tells me, “Don’t stick around at all.”
I get home later that evening. It’s just what I assumed it was. It was a frenzy of questions about what happened. I told them I had a concussion so I couldn’t answer too many questions. That was the only way they allowed me to leave because they assumed I was heading to the doctor. I knew it wasn’t over. The cops were out looking for blood about what happened.
Whistler walks me into the apartment. It’s in the middle of the morning before I get home but Ryder is up waiting for me. I never expected him to be up so late. He is at the door and he runs over to me at that moment. He hugs me.
All the doubts I had about Ryder before seem to fade away when he hugs me. He keeps me close. It seems to last forever. It literally is a hug that lasts for about 10 minutes. He just keeps holding me tightly against his chest. I can’t move. I allow myself to feel his heart. I don’t care if Whistler is watching us the entire time. I don’t think he cares either.
“I should have killed him,” he tells me.
I stop him from talking and look over at Whistler, “Don’t.”
“I don’t care,” he responds shaking his head, “Man we should have both taken him out. He’s a strong motherfucker. He’s got a lot of training but we should have taken him out together.”
I don’t want to make this a big issue with Whistler around. I grab him and walk him over to the couch. It’s not going to matter though because Whistler follows us halfway over.
“I got that…thing we were talking about before the cops came,” I state.
Ryder nods, “Good, but I don’t care about that right now. I should have never put you in that kind of situation. Did he go…all the way.”
“I’m OK really.”
“You can’t be OK,” Ryder responds, “That was rape. Do you understand what just happened to you?”
Ryder was right. Maybe I was still in shock about what happened. I’m worrying about this access card right now for some odd reason. I’m worrying about getting rid of Whistler so we can have some privacy and figure out what we were going to do about the High Liberty. I’ve moved on so quickly that I haven’t taken the time to realize that I was really just raped. Ryder is looking at me with raised eyebrows. He can’t believe how calm I’m acting.
Truth is I’m fine. Maybe it’s because I’m still in shock. Maybe it’s because it was Apollo. I don’t know what it is but right now I don’t feel like I’ve just been through a traumatic experience. Maybe it’ll hit me later but right now it didn’t.
“Ryder I’m OK,” I tell him, “I’m just tired.”
He offers me his hand, “Let’s go to sleep.”
Ryder lets me soak in the tub. When I come back out he rubs me down with oils. It feels so good feeling catered to. I can tell he feels bad about what happened. I can tell that he wants me to get back on my feet with things.
“Is she at the door?” I ask him.
He nods, “Whistler is trying spy. I’m sure of it. I put on the television though. We should be fine if we whisper. Come here. Come lay next to me.”
For some reason when I get in bed with Ryder it feels real. He spoons me. I feel protected. I feel safe next to him. I feel like this is where I belong. It’s a weird feeling, but I think it’s mutual. He scoots close to me. It isn’t sexual. It’s nothing like that. He just wants to comfort me I think. He presses his face up against my face and lets it rest there. We breathe on each other in silence for a minute. Maybe we are listening for Whistler. Maybe we are just listening to each other breathe. I don’t know what it is but I know it feels right.
I know after a little while he is going to say something. I’m hoping it isn’t about the rape again. I know I’m wrong. I know this whole time laying here he is thinking about it. Ryder’s voice was full of intense emotion when he mentioned it in the living room. Not much has changed. I don’t want to talk about it. For some reason I want to act like it didn’t exist. I don’t want to see Apollo as that thing that I saw him as. I want to pretend like it never happened.
“I thought I lost you,” he responds, “Isn’t that crazy? You were just lying there in your own blood. All the arguments we had were petty all of a sudden. I just kept thinking about how the last thing we talked about was so misleading. You thought I had feelings for someone else.”
“I don’t care about Simeon,” Ryder says… “Not like how you think.”
“I saw you kiss him.”
“What you saw was me trading information with him,” he responds.
“Think about it. When you are being intimate with someone people don’t realize what you guys are doing. We were really having a conversation and it looked like we were kissing,” he responds, “It’s Simeon’s idea. Public affection shames people into looking away and not paying too much attention. He didn’t want to be identified.”
“Well I identified him,” I explain.
“You cared enough to keep looking because he seemed like he was intimate with me,” he responds, “Anyone else you would have looked away. It’s normal. I hardly even kissed him.”
“Simeon must really like you if he came up with the idea to look intimate,” I reply.
Ryder laughs, “Wait are you jealous man?”
“You’re dodging the question.”
“He might like me. I don’t know.”
Why am I annoyed at that? Thinking of Simeon annoys me. The guy isn’t a friend to me. He is a tool of a system. He will kill me when he needs to. I should honestly snitch on him but then I know that Simeon will just be replaced by another Zodiac Killer. This world is so fucked up.
“I figured he likes you. Only someone who had a crush would come up with an idea like that.”
“Trust me I don’t feel the same. Simeon needs help. He reached out. He’s a victim just like you. Besides I came up with the idea to get naked and take a shower with you. What does that mean?”
“It means you care…”
He nods and laughs, “And I guess the fact that you identified Simeon must mean the same.”
Did I? Was that the reason I jumped to conclusions about them? Was it because I cared? Ryder did have some creative ways to avoid being detected. We were in the bathroom showering first and now we were cuddled up in a bed speaking as low as possible.
“I guess maybe I do,” I admit, “I care about you.”
There is a silence. It lasts so long that I get scared that it’s not mutual. I get scared that maybe Ryder doesn’t feel the same way about me as I feel about him. I’m wrong though because he’s squeezing me tighter after a few minutes. It’s almost like he’s letting this moment between us really linger. He’s allowing me to really understand what this moment means.
“I really don’t like the fact that you’re making me like a Libra,” he says with a bit of sarcasm in his tone, “I always said I hated Libras but here I am catching feelings for one.”
Ryder saying that makes me smile a little bit. I let his big arm surround me and hold me close for a few more seconds, “Well like you said the system is broken. Maybe it doesn’t matter what signs people are in the end. Maybe the only reason we have certain behaviors is because we were raised to believe we should act a certain way.”
“Exactly,” he responds, “But you do act like a Libra. The other Libras have lost their way but you out of everyone understands justice.”
He turns me around. He looks me in my eyes.
“What are you getting at Ryder?”
“You need to press charges on that piece of shit Apollo for what he did to you,” Ryder explains, “If you don’t press charges on that guy I’m going to kill him. I swear I will.”
Ryder seems like he means it too. Maybe he had something personal with rape. Maybe somehow all the emotion and anger I should be feeling has been transferred over to Ryder. I can see Ryder’s pain and resentment even thinking about it.
“We can’t,” I explain, “I’ve seen the system. The wealthy…they get off free. The important get off as well.”
“That’s not justice,” He responds.
I shake my head, “I know. But this is our society Ryder. This is the world we live in. This is the Zodiac city.”
Ryder lets out a deep sigh. He doesn’t respond. I can tell this is bothering him. Instead of showing it he just presses his body up next to me. He’s cold. He’s still. He’s upset. I know this is having more of an effect on him than he lets on. I turn over and realize that he’s falling asleep. There is something so rare about him.
I kiss him.
“What was that for?”
I don’t respond. I just stare at him. I’m really falling for this Aries. He knows justice even more than me. He knows the future even more than me.
I get to work in the morning. I can’t get Ryder out of my head. The idea of falling for someone is so different from how I thought it would be. For so long I thought I was in love with Apollo but I’m starting to realize that was never the case. The feelings I’m feeling for Ryder are real. I was just raped and I should be upset but I walk into the Justice Hall feeling happy.
I walk over to my friends at that moment. Lizabeth, Lourdes, Loreal and Lloyd are waiting for me in the dressing halls. We are starting to wear our robes and everything like that.
“This must be a big case we’re having today,” Lourdes says, “There’s a lot of press outside. I don’t think I’ve seen so many nosy Sagittarius in my life. I wonder if they caught the new Zodiac killer I swear they are so excitable, aren’t they? Everything excites a Sag. Super annoying.”
Her sister Lizabeth is helping Lourdes fix her robe, “I know. They are just the worst, aside from Cancers of course.”
“The other signs aren’t that bad,” I say.
I’m smiling. Nothing can break the smile that I have today. After the heart to heart I had with Ryder last night I’m feeling on top of the world.
“What are you so excited about?” Loreal asks me.
No one can put me in a bad mood. Not even Loreal. She is standing there with her arms crossed. It’s clear just the fact that I’m smiling is heavily annoying to her. The sisters begin to laugh. Lloyd is sitting quietly in the corner not saying anything.
“Nothing,” I state, “Just saying that we should stop using all these stereotypes and maybe take a second to get to know other signs.”
The girls look at me like I have three heads. I just don’t get it. Aren’t they sick of just hanging around the Gemini and Aquarius lovers they have? There was a huge world out there. From the Cancers in the slums to the Leos in those loud bars. There were so many people out there but we were just acting as though they were less than us.
“That’s not it,” Loreal says, “You’re glowing…”
“No I’m not.”
The other two sisters are staring at me in the next few minutes. I’m annoyed Loreal is bringing this up. The girls surround me and look me up and down. I wonder what they see. I can’t tell though. They are staring at me so fucking hard that I get uncomfortable.
“She’s right,” Lourdes says, “Something’s changed about you.”
“I know that glow. He just got some good sex,” Lizabeth states.
Lourdes backs her up, “He’s in love.”
Lizabeth and Lourdes demote themselves to little girls at that point. It’s just like them. They are making a big deal out of this. Loreal looks heavily annoyed as though she wasn’t the one to bring this whole thing up in the first place. She’s standing there and rolling her eyes.
“With that Aries?” Loreal asks.
“Stop hating,” Lizabeth gives her a push, “Aries or not if someone can make you glow like that then it has to be love. I’ve never seen you like this.”
“I’m not hating,” Loreal states, “Your Aries husband is good looking. Fine. He might give you good sex. OK? Who cares?”
“Seems like you do,” Lizabeth responds, “Stop hating…”
The sisters laugh at Loreal. It seems to piss her off even more.
“I’m happy actually,” Loreal responds, “I wouldn’t trade my husband for the world. My Gemini husband just promised to buy me a yacht. Why the fuck would I be jealous of some disgusting Aries…”
“Watch your fucking mouth,” I tell Loreal.
I think I go a little too far. I get defensive. It shuts Loreal up finally. I’m a little happy it does to be honest. Loreal is such a fucking bitch. She doesn’t expect me to jump to Ryder’s defense like that but I do. As always, as soon as she’s cornered she backs away.
It’s Lourdes that gives her the stink eye, “Stop being such a bitch Loreal.”
Lizabeth joins her sister, “Regardless of what Loreal says the rest of us are happy that you have Ryder.”
I’m not shocked. Lizabeth and Lourdes have always been a little shallow but they’ve always been good friends. The fact that right now they are defending me against Loreal means the world. They take turns giving me hugs and attempting to get the dirt on Ryder.
“What makes you guys think it’s Ryder?”
Just at that moment we all turn to Lloyd. He’s been completely quiet this entire time. Right now he’s standing on the other side of the room. He’s staring me down something hard. I don’t get it. The look in his eyes right now is hate I think. I think its actual hate. Lloyd is beyond pissed.
“What?” I ask, “Of course it’s Ryder. Who else would it be…?”
“You lying piece of shit!”
I don’t see it coming. I don’t see Lloyd jump on me until he does. He punches me a few times. I attempt to block it. He throws his hands right in my face hitting me in my stomach! I struggling to brace myself as he takes me down to the floor! I’m shocked!
Lloyd has never put his fucking hands on me before!
Just at that moment Whistler runs into the dressing room. She pulls Lloyd off of me. Lloyd is kicking and striking out as much as he can. It’s like a madness just went over him. I don’t get it. My heart is racing from what just happened. My best friend just fucking attacked me.
“Lloyd what the fuck is your problem?” Lourdes asks.
Even Loreal seems shocked. She walks over to help me up and dusts me off before saying, “Thank god your Virgo has super hearing…”
Super hearing? Where the fuck was Whistler when I needed her while I was getting raped. She was supposedly right out the door but she never came. It was Ryder who ended up saving me. Where the fuck was her super hearing then?
Right now I’m just as confused with Whistler as I am with Lloyd.
“He’s a fucking homewrecker!” Lloyd says.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I ask.
“My husband LEFT me at the fucking movies. I had to catch a ride with a stranger. When I got home he’s all sore.”
“Your husband is a fucked up individual. That’s why. That has nothing to do with me,” I state.
“He smelled like sex!” Lloyd responds.
It takes a minute for me to understand what Lloyd is getting at. There are tears falling down from Lloyd’s eyes. I had no idea that he cared about his marriage to Apollo this much. Right now he seems like he is going through it.
There is an awkwardness that fills the room. Lourdes and Lizabeth are standing uncomfortably in the middle of the room. Loreal, who just helped me up is giving me a very suspicious little look. They can’t honestly believe that Apollo was the reason that I was in a good mood.
“It’s not what you think,” I respond.
Lourdes shakes her head in agreement, “Law wouldn’t do that Lloyd. You got it all wrong.”
“She’s right,” Lizabeth says, “Law wouldn’t play you like that.”
Loreal doesn’t add in. Lloyd looks like any cool that he had right now is completely gone. The look in his eyes is painful.
“If the two of you get out of Law’s ass for two seconds you’ll realize that he hasn’t denied it yet. He can’t. He can’t deny the fact that he had sex with my husband.”
He stares at me.
The sisters stare at me too. I know they want me to deny it. It would be easy to just lie about it. I didn’t want to lie to Lloyd though. He never lied to me. Our friendship was better than that. I understood why he was upset but he was upset at the wrong person. He needed to be upset with that fucked up ass person he was married to.
“It’s not what you think,” I state, “He raped me.”
A silence falls over the room. My friends look at me. There is a sense of shock that fills the room.
“Oh my god,” Loreal says.
She seems beyond shocked. All of a sudden all of those emotions that I’ve kept bottled up pour out of me. I don’t understand the delayed reaction but it’s happening all of a sudden. Tears are running down my face. I’m feeling so violated. My friends are looking at me with this sadness as well. They seem shocked about what I just said. I wonder why it took so long to break down about this but the fact is I was violated by Apollo. I cared about him and he just completely took advantage of me.
I pound my fist on the floor. I feel hopeless. At least I told them the truth though. At least they know. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of this. I wanted to focus on the good things in my life. I wanted to focus on Ryder.
I choke attempting to let the words out as I explain it to my friends, “I know. I never would have expected Apollo to…”
Loreal cuts me off. She raises her hand, “No. I mean Oh My God…you’re such a fucking liar.”
The others are looking at me in the same exact way. They were looking at me like I was lying. I thought it was sadness but it wasn’t. Lloyd looked at me like he was disgusted. The sisters are looking at me as though they are disappointed WITH ME!
“You came in here smiling. You really expect us to believe you were raped?” Lourdes asks.
“I’m telling the truth, LOURDES! What the fuck! HE RAPED ME!” I respond.
Lourdes and Lizabeth look at each other. I’m so used to them being on my side. I’m so used to them taking up for me. The fact that they were just thinking I was lying right now is beyond me. I feel like I’m the one who is losing it right now. I want to pull my hair out! This isn’t happening.
“See how desperate he is,” Loreal states shaking her head, “That’s what happens when you date an Aries. They mess with your mind. A friend told me he saw Law with that Aries in a LEO bar…doing those drugs the Leos like to do.”
She shakes her head. Bitch.
“Look at me. Please. Look in my eyes. Lourdes. Lizabeth. Lloyd. I have no reason to lie about this. He raped me. You have to believe me? Please.”
Lloyd grunts, “Why would Apollo rape you when you are so willing?”
“He admitted the two of you were attempting to get divorces last night,” Lloyd says, “So you can marry one another. Deny that part, Law.”
Lloyd knows I’m not going to lie to him. The looks they are giving me right now are judgmental. These were supposed to be my friends. These were supposed to be people that I cared about. Right now in my moment of weakness they don’t give a shit about me. None of them are looking at my eyes full of tears and sadness and give a damn.
I’d just been raped and these fucking people were pointing the finger at me.
“Drugs. I tell you. The Aries has him on drugs,” Loreal keeps adding in.
I ignore her. I turn to the sisters, “Girls. Please. You’ve known me since I was a kid. You know that I wouldn’t lie about Apollo raping me.”
“Apollo’s a gentleman,” Lourdes says.
I turn to Lizabeth. She’s always been the one to believe in love. She and I went on so many double dates with the Aquarian boys back in the day. She should know that I wouldn’t just lie on Apollo for no reason.
Even Lizabeth hesitates, Lizabeth shakes her head, “I want to believe you but you walked in here smiling…”
“I came in here smiling DESPITE Apollo. Ryder is the one who changed my mood.”
They don’t believe me. Suddenly the bailiff comes into the room. The Capricorn bailiff has no idea what he just walked into. I’m collapsed on the floor full of emotions. My friends are angry. He seems so shocked by what he walks into that he looks around wondering if he’s in the same room. We usually kept things professional in here. That wasn’t the case at this moment. Things were different.
“The pre-trial for your next case is about to start,” the Capricorn says.
“Can we have a moment?” Lloyd asks, “Please…”
“No. This is a high profile emergency case. Charges have been pressed on Police Chief Apollo. Rape charges,” the bailiff replies.
Silence. I didn’t press charges. I think about it for a minute. I’m just as shocked as the others are when they hear about it.
“Ryder! Ryder had to press charges,” I realize shaking my head, “See! See I told you guys I wasn’t fucking lying about this guy!”
Loreal raises her eyebrow, “You would take it this far?”
“Take WHAT this far?”
Lourdes and Lizabeth shake their heads at me. It’s Lourdes who adds, “You’re not the person who I thought you were Law. Setting up an innocent man like that.”
My mouth drops open at this moment.
“You don’t even know the fucking facts of the case. What the fuck are you talking about innocent?” I ask.
“My husband is going to walk,” Lloyd says.
Lloyd is confident about this. It makes me wonder if he knew that Apollo was going to get arrested before he came in this room. Maybe that is why he was so upset. The fact that he turned on me for Apollo right now is proving a point. The fact that the rest of my friends turned on me as well is sealing that point.
Because I was with Ryder they had all these doubts about the person I was. They were blinded to the truth.
The girls seem to agree at that moment. They don’t need to hear the case. They don’t need to know anything. They agree.
It’s Loreal that actually says it, “Apollo is innocent.”
With that Loreal walks out of the room. The girls walk out after her. I reach out to them hoping to continue this conversation but they walk past me.
They don’t even give me the respect to look in my eyes as they do it. I know they are about to go in that courtroom and regardless of what they hear they are going to think that Apollo is innocent.
“Sorry. The bailiff is waiting,” Lourdes tells me as I struggle to get her attention.
She walks away. That leaves Lloyd and me in the room. Whistler finally releases him. He dusts himself off. He walks over to me. He bends down. Whistler watches to make sure he doesn’t hit me but I know he won’t.
“Apollo told me he turned you down. That’s what he said when he was getting arrested this morning. He said he loved me and he told me that you went to the cops because he refused to marry you.”
“You’d believe that bullshit wouldn’t you?” I ask Lloyd, “You’d believe anything he fucking said to you. Thanks so much best friend.”
“Oh I’m the bad one now? I was matched with Apollo. Not you.”
“This match system is bullshit.”
I realize Whistler is peering at me hard. I probably shouldn’t have said that in front of her but I’m so emotional right now that I don’t care. I feel betrayed. I feel like no matter what I say to my friends it doesn’t matter. They’ve made up their minds.
“You made me believe in the system and the moment it stops working for you now you have a problem with it. You can have Apollo. I already told the High Liberty that it was Apollo who probably fixed your marriage with Ryder. I agreed to the divorce. After this trial you can have him for all I care.”
Lloyd gets up at that moment.
He walks outside the door. I can’t let this happen. I can’t let Apollo get away with lying to everyone after he violated me.
I walk towards the door. The decision had to be unanimous. I would go against everyone else if I had to. I’d make myself look bad in front of the High Liberty. I didn’t care. There was no way I was going to let this trial go down. There was no way I’d let Apollo get away with RAPING me!
“Stop,” the Capricorn bailiff says as I am walking to the courtroom.
“What? Move. The pre-trial is going to start.”
“You’ve been removed from the case,” the Capricorn bailiff says.
My heart is beating fast.
“The High Liberty believes that since you are the victim in this case. It wouldn’t be fair and balanced,” the Capricorn states.
My heart is beating. I’m hurt. I’m beyond hurt. Tears are rolling down my face. I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t fucking believe this.
“Apollo is going to get away with it. Isn’t he?” I ask the Capricorn bailiff, “ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME MOTHERFUCKER!”
The bailiff ignores my question. He hands me papers, “The High Liberty as also reached out to me to deliver this. Because there has been evidence that your matchmaking was tampered with your marriage to Ryder has been annulled.”
My palms are sweating. I look at the paper. Sure enough the High Liberty has had my marriage annulled. It had to be because of what Lloyd told him. It had to be because of that! I shake my head looking at the paper.
When I finally was starting to like Ryder this happened? When I was finally falling for Ryder he was stripped out of my life!
“This is a mistake,” I state.
“Actually, your marriage to the Aries Ryder was a mistake. You’ve already been re-matched. If Police Chief Apollo is found innocent, he will be your new husband.”
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com