In a little two-story house at the end of Dretton Avenue on the poorer side of London lived a family of eight. It was a small house with four bedrooms, one of which belonged to my older brother Olson.
He is twenty-one years old and still depends on Mother Dearest for everything. He never really did have the determination and drive to make a name for himself, but I guess some people are different.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with still living at home once you’ve hit that age, but he’s not exactly dripping with common sense when it comes to knowing the basics of living alone.
He still expects everyone else to run around after him cleaning his messes and making sure that he has everything he needs, but when I say everyone, I specifically mean me.
Next room in the house, across the hall, belongs to my little sister, Eloise, or Ellie as she likes to go by. She’s as difficult as they come.
I don’t mean the whole boy-crazy difficult; I mean the “who gets whatever she wants, when she wants” bratty difficult. She’s fifteen and has never had to work hard for anything in her life.
Both our parents will gladly break their own backs to give her whatever she wants, which is a huge indicator that she is the preferred daughter out of the two of us.
I would say I didn’t mind, that no matter what my parents thought I was happy with who I was and did not need their approval, but I would be lying.
Then next to Ellie is Michael. He’s a very reserved kid, incredibly quiet for a twelve-year-old. He was never great when it came to speaking to others, but I guess the mystery behind him makes him a social favorite around here.
It’s rare to catch him leaving the house unless he’s going to school or getting himself into trouble with his delinquent friends.
He’s probably worse than Ellie when it comes to causing trouble, and getting on his bad side is like willingly giving your soul to the darkest of evil to be used as a sparring tool.
He could probably raise hell for anyone who disagreed with him, and I guess that’s the privilege of being our father’s favorite.
In the fourth bedroom, and by far the biggest, are the king and queen of hell themselves, my parents.
The monsters that will forever haunt me in the darkest shadows of my mind, reminding me that those who are supposed to love and protect you can be the ones to destroy you.
Avoiding any sort of confrontation with them both is the safest option because they’re not exactly worthy of the “parents of the year award” when it comes to me.
My mother was a very caring lady once upon a time, always laughing through life with a smile on her face, but when I hit thirteen and my body started changing, so did she, but not for the better.
From that point I was raised to believe that I had to have the best of everything: clear skin and amazing hair with a model figure otherwise no man would want me, and it’s sad because there was a time in my life when I would believe her.
She would start controlling what I was eating, when I could eat, and how much I could eat. Half the time the meals were smaller than those of the youngest of the household. Her reasons being “A man will choose a skinny woman over a fat bitch every time.”
That was not the only thing she controlled—I had to stop hanging around with all my friends because they were, and I quote, “Not good enough for your image!”
The way I acted had to portray an image of pure innocence otherwise I would receive the worst punishment she could imagine. I tried to be myself once while my mother was not around, but as soon as I got home, I knew I had made a mistake.
She knew and she was not going to hold back with this punishment. I still have a strip of skin a couple shades lighter on my shoulder as a reminder of the consequences to my actions.
Let’s not forget about my father. He had always been a man of extraordinarily little words but when he did speak you’d soon wish he didn’t.
Every word that came out of his mouth was insulting and degrading—well, for me anyway. I tried not to blame him for that though growing up, because he is an addict and has been battling alcoholism for as long as I can remember.
I know that it’s his fault for turning to those alternatives for his problems, but he’s my father and some part of me will always love him despite the mistakes he’s made.
When I was fourteen, an even darker setting decided to present itself to the Watson household. It was the first day I watched my father strike my mother out of anger and jealousy. This started to become a regular thing as time went on.
Some part of my father is too dark, too violent for this world, and some part of me thinks my mother knows this.
She would never stand up to my father; it might be out of fear, or delusion that maybe he would change, but I would never be able to forgive her for that.
When my father would go into a frenzy, I would try to make sure that my siblings were elsewhere, but everything has its consequences.
I was caught sneaking around the second floor one day after making sure that the babies were safe and that was when the title of my father’s victim changed from my mother to me.
The last two members of the household are Dianna and Emma, the youngest Watson kids.
With Dianna only being eighteen months old and Emma being three months they stayed in my parents’ room. Not that I was comfortable with it, but baby monitors can come in handy with situations like these.
I love those babies like they’re my own, this might just be because I am practically raising them both while my parents are off doing who-knows-what somewhere in the city.
They were the only good things in this house and I was dreading the day that our parents managed to dig their claws into them, corrupting and shaping them into people like them and my siblings.
Living in the Watson household is not easy, especially for me.
I work two jobs to help support my day-to-day needs, like food and clothing, while also making sure that Dianna and Emma have everything they need after my father wastes all our income on his addiction that seems to grow every day.
My bedroom is not like the others; it is at the very top of the house because that is the only place they were willing to put me once everyone else chose their rooms.
There was a draft making a cold chill run down my spine and if it starts raining, I must squeeze myself into a little corner of the attic where I have bundles of old clothes and blankets to avoid the patches where the tiling has been disturbed and pray that it will be over soon so that I don’t get sick.
There’s not much that I own because it’s either too much to bring into the confined space or I simply do not need it. I have a set of drawers for all my clothes, a low bedframe bed that I bought with my first paycheck, and an alarm clock.
I hardly spend time at home anyway, so I didn’t see the need in decorating the room with little trinkets and whatever else people use to make it their own.
I work at a little café called Café L’Amour Monday to Friday every week. This is normally from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m., however on the days where the café is not too busy, I could probably get away with leaving an hour or so earlier.
Then on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and the weekend I work at Club Luminous as a bartender and a server for the VIP rooms when needed. That’s from 7 p.m. till 5 a.m. on a good day, so I’m pretty much constantly busy.
The changeover in uniform is simple too because I get to wear my own clothes while at the café so I can go straight to the club without looking too “out of place” while walking there.
However, the outfit that we are required to wear while at the club is mortifying. It’s a leather top that looks more like a sports bra with a zip at the front, and a short skirt to match that only just covers the butt, and fishnet tights.
There’s a lot of skin on show, but my manager says that it will bring in more customers, which increases business. People in the neighborhood always said that my manager, Marcus Filton, was a pig who always had his eyes on women too young for him.
I never believed them until I started working there a few months back. Whenever I’m on shift, I can always feel his eyes glued to my ass.
I bite my tongue for the sole reason that I needed the job and confronting my manager about his perverted tendencies was not the way to keep it.
I am personally not comfortable with the uniform because my stomach is on full display, as well as my thighs, but most of the women I work with seem confident in their outfits.
I have always been conscious of both my thighs and stomach because I am not exactly stick-thin.
I am more curvaceous, so my thighs are bigger than most of the girls I work with, meaning my hips are wider as well to accommodate my rounder butt, which is barely covered by the material of the skirt, but I manage to make it work, somehow.
When it comes to shoes Marcus is awfully specific in what we can and cannot wear and how high the heels must be. I chose to wear black six-inch stiletto heels because they were probably the comfiest option in my opinion.
I would not want to wear the thigh-high boots and bring even more attention to the areas I am least comfortable with, but everyone has their own preference.
I don’t necessarily hate this job but there have been quite a few incidents where I have had to call over one of the bouncers because of a drunk guy getting too handsy while I was serving their table.
Some people just do not understand the concept of being told no. No means no; it’s not me playing hard to get or trying to make it seem like I’m too good for them, so they need to dig of their head out of their arse and sort themselves out.
That brings us to the present moment. It’s currently 3 a.m. on a Tuesday and I cannot seem to fall asleep. My mind has been going haywire with all the stress mentally and physically that I am put under daily.
I lie and watch as time slowly ticks by on my alarm clock at the side of the bed and finally accept the fact that it will be another sleepless night.
I am beginning to get used to functioning with the lack of sleep I get on days like these, but I am glad that it’s a Tuesday and not a day that I need to work at both the café and club because there’s nothing worse than working back-to-back shifts with zero sleep.
I have done it a few times but by the time I make it to the club I am too tired to care about the service I provide, leading to a couple vulgar gestures to a few old, perverted men without thinking of the consequences.
So then tips are not as hefty, and I am left short on bus fare for the next day or two.
When the clock shows 7:02 a.m. I am already awake and getting ready to start my shift at the café.
The walk is only twenty minutes from my house, so it’s not extremely far, but I liked to get there early to greet Sophie Hernandez, my boss and the sweetest woman on the face of the earth.
She has basically been a mother figure to me, making sure that I eat in the mornings even if it’s something as small as a pastry from the shelf because I’m “too thin for a growing woman.”
But I disagree. I believe that my figure is too big for a female of my age and height. Being a five-foot-four nineteen-year-old is all fun and games unless your body shape is like mine and you begin to resemble a walking, talking pear.
As my shift began, I started to stock up the pastry display, only to be reminded of the pain in my lower back and wrists from my father the evening before.
The scene replayed in the back of my mind almost on command.
The force of my back meeting the wall was enough to make my legs shake and knock the air out of my lungs.
My wrists were trapped in his tight grasp, locked between his hands and the wall so that I could not move them while he screamed in my face and repeatedly kneed my stomach for added affect. I was completely at his disposal.
My heart was racing and everything inside me screamed to run and hide. My father never let a pattern show so I could never truly see his next move coming, but even if I could, the chances of being able to block it were close to none.
Some days he just kicked me around a bit but today was not one of those days.
After being thrown across the hall into the corner of the dining table, a sharp pain in my lower back spread up my spinal cord, making me feel light-headed and nauseated.
This would go on for another few hours.
The memory will forever be engraved but it’s not always a bad thing; it shows my strength, that I can withstand something terrible and still have the will to carry on and see another sunrise.
Shoved back into the present reality, I glanced down to the growing injury. I was sporting nice bruises on both of my wrists, and maybe even a fracture in my left wrist considering the darkness in color compared to the right one.
Too late to cover them now. I’d just have to keep my hands in my apron pockets so not to look too conspicuous.
Just then the bell above the door chimed alerting the whole place that someone had arrived.
“Would you mind serving these people while I finish up out the back, sweetie?” Sophie was always so polite even when she’s under pressure. It truly baffled my brain how she could stay so calm and collected while trying to run this place.
“Of course, Sophie, already on it.” I made my way from the storeroom to the front, only to be met with the most enticing eyes I had ever seen, an electrifying shade of pool blue eyes staring straight into my pale green.
Just like the beauty of his eyes he had a face to match.
Dark black hair, only just long enough to run his fingers through, high cheekbones to accompany the strong jawline with a generically defined nose to pull it all together.
He didn’t look much older than me, but the way he carried himself was very mature and probably seen as intimidating to others around him. He was what I would classify as pure perfection.
As I slowly made my way over to the handsome stranger, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in our heights. From my first guess I would say he was around six foot three, maybe four, and he was pulling it off.
He wasn’t a lanky kind of tall, but he did have broad shoulders. A bulky guy who probably spent all his free time in the gym to maintain the pack of abs that were slightly showing from the white shirt he was wearing.
His long muscular legs were clad in black denim jeans, which were paired nicely with the shirt to give off the whole “I didn’t even try this morning, but you still need to respect me” vibe.
“How may I help you this morning, sir?” I was trying to keep it professional and not wonder over the god of a man standing in front of me with my eyes.
It was like the sound of my voice pulled the mysterious stranger out of his strange demeanor. With the shake of his head, I finally had a voice to match the looks.
“I’m here to see Sophie. Would you mind getting her for me, please?” With a quick nod of my head, I made my way into the kitchen out back and was met with Sophie covered in flour while fighting with what appeared to be cake batter.
Muffling my laugh, I decided to tell Sophie about the handsome stranger out front.
“Uhm, Sophie? There is a young man here to speak to you out front. Should I send him back here?”
With her attention now on me, she scurried past me without saying a word as if she was in a rush to see this guy. Like the thought of keeping him waiting was as terrifying as it comes.
Deciding to stay behind to give them their privacy, I walked over to the abandoned batter and began to work my way through it getting it ready to go in the oven.
I wondered what they were talking about.
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