Lucas and I were side-by-side on the floor in front of my bed, working on a group project, when suddenly I heard a gasp.
"Alright, Huckleberry, what'd you do now?" I asked, jokingly.
But when I turned to him his face was serious, "Maya, what happened to your wrist?"
I gaped down at the bared wrist in my lap and hurriedly pulled down the sleeve of my sweatshirt, but the damage was already done. My sleeve must've gotten pushed up as I worked, and the black-and-blue marks were clearly spotted.
"It's nothing," I said quietly, avoiding eye contact.
"It's not nothing," he corrected me, gingerly pulling my hand into his lap and pushing back up the sleeve, "Maya, I asked you what happened."
"It's my fault," I assured him, "He didn't mean to do it."
"Who didn't?" he asked, but the way he nearly growled the question told me he already knew the answer.
I glanced up at his and the look in his eyes confirmed it.
"Was this the first time?" he asked.
I remained quiet.
"Maya," he said, teeth gritted in an attempt to suppress his anger, "Please talk to me."
"It's not the first time," I mumbled, pulling my arm away from him, "But I've got it under control."
"When?" he asked, hesitating, "Where?"
"You don't really wanna know," I tensed.
"I want to," he persisted, "I want to know everything. Maya, I can't believe, after everything we've been through, you wouldn't tell me this was happening to you!"
I thought about that for a second. Lucas and I had been through a lot together since that fateful day on the train. But, I guess, that was also the reason I didn't tell him what was going on. Lucas had a tendency to Hulk out- or go all Texas Lucas, as Zay says- when something happens to one of his friends. I guess part of me was protecting Riley from the part of her boyfriend she was a bit scared of, and the other part of me, I'll be honest, was scared that he wouldn't Hulk out for me anymore. Since our little dating stint, we'd been avoiding each other a bit. I wasn't sure if I'd still fall under Texas Lucas' protection, since this project is the first time we've hung out alone together since, like, the eighth grade.
"Maya," he said, his stern voice bringing me back to reality, "Show me what he did to you."
I sighed deeply and lifted up the hem of my sweatshirt and down the edge of my leggings, revealing the ugly purpled mark on my hip.
"Is that what you wanted to see?" I asked, feeling sososo stupid for letting this thing with Colin go this far.
His fingers ghosted over the mark, barely touching it, but reaching for it as if to see if what he was seeing was real.
"Maya, why did you let him do this?" he asked, his voice thin, his breath labored.
Ignoring his question, I lifted my shirt further showing him, inch by inch, the bruises on my stomach, the scratches on my back, the fingerprints embedded into my shoulders.
"Does it look like I had a choice?" I answered, my voice catching, breaking.
But I didn't feel broken anymore. Instead, for the first time in a long time, I felt safe. I could tell from Lucas' concerned look that he would never let something bad happen to me, and I clung to that. However wrong it is to have to rely on a boy- and on your best friend's boy, no less- I didn't care. I finally felt like things were going to be okay.