Molly slammed the door of the bedroom hard enough to shake the framed photo on the wall across from it. (The only framed anything on Will’s wall: a picture of him and Adam as children, hugging Donald Duck. Adam had a picture of the two of them hugging Minnie Mouse. White people, right? But the attempt at levity didn’t ease the tightness in her chest.)
She allowed herself the brief dramatic satisfaction of throwing her body onto the bed.
God. That really didn’t help. And she already had a headache.
“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.” The words were savage, ragged-edged, and her throat hurt with the chant. “Fuck you, I hate you, fuck you.”
Except of course the irritating thing was she didn’t actually hate him. And she wasn’t actually fucking him, either. Because he wasn’t comfortable with it. Because it didn’t fucking feel right.
“I hate you,” she said, again, only this time it sounded a lot more like crying. She bit down on her lips so she wouldn’t risk hearing her own voice.
She wasn’t gonna cry, though. Fuck that. Fuck whatever the hell Will thought she was supposed to be doing, which probably included crying and screaming, and running to him for fucking comfort. But fuck all of that shit. She didn’t need comfort. She needed to tear him up.
Her stomach growled. Make that: she needed to eat something. And then she needed to tear Will up so she knew she’d be okay. And she really wasn’t interested in looking at why those two things were so closely aligned in her head right now.
Fuck everything. And fuck Will, especially. Only not right now, because apparently she needed to get someone’s fucking permission, someone’s okay, before she could fuck him.
She pulled out her phone—resentfully, yeah, but talking to anyone on earth other than Will right now would be good—and dialed Truman.
“Molly, you’re home. I assume you’re home. How are you? How was Amsterdam?”
And that was almost enough to push her over the edge. Because fuck everything, this was it, this was the line, she’d say this thing, and then he’d go all soft and gentle and she hated it. She hated that she had to say this, and that she was the one who was going to suffer for it.
“All right,” Truman said, when she didn’t say anything. “How can I help?”
She’d already crossed the line, anyway. She told Will. It was only a matter of time before Truman knew.
“Well, I kind of want to fucking kill my boyfriend. Can you help with that?”
“I’m getting better at knots,” Truman replied, and thank fucking god for Truman’s totally deadpan voice.
“Are you? I don’t have that kind of patience.” She closed her eyes. “I’m making this phone call under duress. Will’s withholding pizza rolls.”
“Submissive people have a keen grasp of sadism, Lucy says.”
“Yeah. I told him to call you if he’s so fucking worked up about it, but he thinks he knows best, and I’m hungry, and I—” I want to leave so badly my feet itch, but the thought of walking out the door terrifies me.
“Would you like me to have a pizza delivered?”
“God. No. Thank you. Fuck.” She swallowed. “So I was assaulted, by this fucking shithead guy, and apparently Will thinks I’m not handling it correctly, so he’s withholding pizza rolls.” And oh fuck, now it was over, now his voice would change and he’d never look at her the same, even though it was so not her fault. “Except it wasn’t even a big fucking deal when he didn’t know, so obviously this thing where it’s a big deal has nothing to do with me. Fuck.”
“All right. And what exactly does Will think you’re getting out of a conversation with me?”
Truman’s voice hadn’t changed yet.
“I know, right? He said this vague bullshit thing about how I really need to ‘talk to someone.’ But I’m not gonna talk to fucking Beccs, because I don’t want to end up in some kind of feminist commune being reborn through a goddamn blanket or something. Shit. Sorry. That was a shitty thing to say.”
“I assume it goes without saying that should you, Molly, actually want to talk—about anything, including Will withholding pizza rolls—I’m available.”
“Yeah, but Truman, I’m done. I dealt with this shit three months ago, when it fucking happened, okay? I really don’t—” She paused and took a few breaths, trying to slow down or she might actually cry, which really wouldn’t support her case. But these were anger-tears, not fucking rape-tears, and that should count for something. “What I really don’t need from him right now is a bunch of bullshit about how it doesn’t fucking feel right to have sex with me. When the last two fucking weeks, since I got home? We’ve had sex. So fuck Will and his sudden fucking squeamishness.”
“So pizza rolls aren’t all he’s withholding.”
“Pizza rolls are the only things I’m getting out of this phone call. Shit. Sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”
“I understand. If I may ask—when did you tell Will about the assault?”
At least he didn’t use some ridiculous euphemism.
“Two days ago,” she said. “And three days ago? I fucked him so hard he fucking cried. In a good way. But now he’s refusing to have sex with me, which is just so—wrong. Dammit, Truman.”
She rolled over to shove her face into a pillow. Except the pillow smelled like Will, and she wanted that to be good, to be comforting, but instead it just made her even more sad.
“So it sounds like Will has not yet dealt with your assault.”
“God, yeah. That’s exactly it. I should be withholding pizza rolls from him.”
“Well, and I say this in all seriousness: men can be idiots.”
“You know that’s right.” Molly took a deep breath. “Can’t you just call him or something? Tell him that in your professional opinion, I’m totally okay?”
“Clear you fit for duty?”
“Yeah, exactly. Jesus! What a bastard. Like I need anyone to fucking tell me when I’m okay.”
“Understood. Can I float an alternative perspective?”
“Shoot. Especially if it’s gonna make me want to fucking kill him less.”
“I can’t promise that. But I do know that if Hugh was somewhere in the world, and we were apart, and he was assaulted—I would need more than two days to come to terms with that. For me, not because of anything about him. I would feel powerless, and sick, and afraid. You get what I’m saying, Molly?”
“That I should feel bad for Will? Because fuck that, Truman.”
“No. You feel whatever you feel. But I do think that what you’re perceiving as some sort of projection of weakness on you might just be a result of Will’s inner turmoil.”
“So what, I just smile and nod and let him decide when I’m ready to fuck him again? Like I did three fucking nights ago?” Her muscles tensed and she pulled her legs up. “Goddammit. I’m over this shit. Fuck Will. Fuck everyone.”
“Has he mentioned any of this to Hugh, do you think?”
“I told him not to tell anyone. Because it’s not a thing, and if he starts telling Ads, then Beccs will want to talk about it, and I can’t fucking take goddamn group therapy right now.” She hadn’t meant Hugh, hadn’t even thought of Hugh.
Long pause. Then: “With your permission, I think Hugh and I might come down for the weekend. Our last weekend away was canceled early, and I still haven’t seen Santa Barbara in daylight.”
Molly studied the thread fuzz on Will’s old comforter as she thought about it. “I don’t want this to be a thing. If you guys come down, it’ll just prove to him that he was right, that it’s a thing. And I don’t need some fucking men to save me, Truman.” Though even as she said it, she had to clench her fists and banish the memory of waking up, of that first transition between I’m awake and I remember.
“No,” Truman said, and his voice was lower now, but not pitying. “No, clearly that time has passed. But if Will’s jumpy, I can’t think of anyone better to shove him off on than Hugh. Can you?”
Ha. Yeah. Push Will into the arms of his fucking dom. Good call, Truman. “If this becomes some kind of bullshit intervention about how I haven’t faced my feelings, I’m leaving. I will dump his ass before I let him make this into some kind of fucking personal crisis.”
“Not at all. We’ll go to coffee or something and let Hugh work. You can tell me more about the thesis. Or is it a dissertation these days?”
“Actually, I’m thinking of writing a book.” Or at least, she had been. She’d been feeling a little derailed in the past few weeks. Not rape-derailed, just normal derailed. Dammit.
“I look forward to hearing all about it. We’ll give you a call when we’re moving on Saturday morning.”
Saturday. Four days. “So what, I just let him get away with this bullshit until then?”
“You can’t force him to have sex with you to prove that someone else forcing you to have sex is okay. It’s not. He may need more than two days on this, Molly.”
“But it’s like he’s—punishing me.” She swallowed hard and viciously wiped the tears out of her eyes. “It’s not fair.”
“I know. And Molly? I’m very sorry. As I would be had any accident befallen you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Me too. Anyway, okay, well, I better get back out there or he’s gonna eat all the fucking pizza rolls and I’ll still be hungry. See you, Truman.”
“Take care of yourself.”
She snorted, only it probably sounded like a sniffle, which was annoying. “Bye.”
But she didn’t really feel like pizza rolls. She felt like ripping all of her braids out of her head one-by-one, little bits of scalp and blood flying all over the place, and the total absorption of pain. Yeah. That’d be good. It’d be good to be disfigured, to be ugly, obscene. That would feel way better than lying here on her boyfriend’s bed trying not to scream.
* * *
Living with Will right now was like some sort of endless water torture session. Every sweet, sorry glance her way (only when he thought she wasn’t looking) burned; every time he caught himself laughing and either stopped or laughed louder, the awareness making it fake, stripped her open.
He didn’t touch her. He averted his eyes when she came out of the shower, like he couldn’t bear to look at her, and finally, on Friday, she’d had enough.
“You know, I pretty much look the same as I always have, Will Derrie. I didn’t get ‘some asshole fucked me against my will’ tattooed on my ass or anything. You can look at me. You didn’t have a problem looking at me a week ago.”
“Well, I didn’t know then, did I?”
“Yeah, and clearly I shouldn’t have told you at all, since you can’t fucking handle it.”
“I can’t handle it?” Will stood up, and yeah, let’s do this, let’s really fucking have it out. “I can’t handle it? I guess your way of handling it was to fuck everyone you saw between then and getting on a plane?”
Whoa. Wait. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“What am I talking about? Jesus, Moll. The shit you were telling me about?” And Will—Will, with whom she’d fallen in love mostly because one night he let a totally wasted girl sleep in his bed, and stayed up all night talking with Molly in the living room of the old apartment—Will looked disgusted.
It knocked her back. Was he pissed at her? Fine. She could deal with that. Sad and pitying? Fuck it, that inspired a low, burning rage, but she could deal with rage. But disgusted?
“You know what? You can go to hell, Will Derrie. Or no, you can run off to your fucking boyfriend if I’m too much for you, if I’m too fucking much for you, if you can’t take it!”
This time when she slammed the door, he was in the bedroom. And of course, now that she was standing there in what was the living room/kitchen/dining room, she realized she had nowhere to go. She’d planned to live with Will for the summer, getting everything together for the next round of interviews—back to Amsterdam, which would be good, because Amsterdam felt like home more than anywhere else—and trying to figure out if she could actually write a book, or if she was kidding herself.
Oh, god. This was so fucked up.
If the boyfriends weren’t showing up in the morning, she would have left. She wanted to leave. She wanted to leave Will alone in the apartment so he could understand just what an asshole he was, so he could feel guilty, and like he was the worst boyfriend on earth. Because right now? He was.
But she didn’t want to see anyone else, either, so she was stuck here, fuming in the kitchen. Fuck everyone she saw? What was that all about? She always told Will about her adventures when she came home, and he’d never been a dick about it before. In fact, he got off on it, hearing about her and other guys. So she didn’t know where the fuck he thought he got off, acting like she should be ashamed of having sex with other people.
“Fuck,” Molly mumbled, and leaned her forehead against the refrigerator. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Anyway, the boyfriends would show up in the morning, and while ultimately they were Will’s people first, Truman, at least, would be pretty neutral. She wasn’t sure what Hugh would be.
The whole thing was just so stupid. One night. One fucking night, and she’d been fine for three goddamn months. And now it was back, with claws, like it had followed her over time and across the ocean and she couldn’t fucking escape it.
“Fuck this,” she said. Then she made some food, and slammed back into the bedroom with a plate of it for Will, but ignored his soft “Thank you” because fuck Will, too.
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