Wow, guys, I cannot apologize enough for not updating this for so many months. I have no excuse for not updating, I just have not had the inspiration to write anything new with this story. But now I'm back, and I have a few more ideas for this story, so I hope you're still sticking around, and to new readers, welcome! I must warn you now though, this chapter deals with VERY mature themes. So be warned. You'll probably hate me after this chapter, but I promise that it does get better. Please review, I'd love to hear what you think of it. Spashley forever!

Chapter Six: Sacrifice

(Spencer's POV)

Carmen. The name sent a shiver running through my spine, as I heard the words slip out of Ashley's mouth. She whispered her name, and I felt her back up towards me, so that my chest was pressed against her back. She reached out for my hand, and grasped it protectively, her fingers curling around mine in a tight compress.

"Am I interrupting anything?" Carmen asked, a sly smile twitching at the corners of her mouths. Beside her, two people stood, one a boy and the other a girl. The guy, who I recognized from hanging out with Carmen, was cracking his knuckles, getting ready for battle. His muscles bulged beneath his black shirt, and I felt a stream of nausea roll through my stomach. The girl stood obediently at Carmen's side, glaring Daggers at Ashley, who didn't seem to notice her. She was too involved with staring down Carmen.

"What are you doing here?" Ashley growled, backing up a little bit more. My back pressed against the wall, and my chest started feeling compressed. I tried to take a deep breath, feeling my heart pound in my chest, threatening to explode.

"I heard that you were opening up for the band, and I decided to come see how good of a musician you really are." Carmen lifted a hand and waved off her sentence. "Now I know what Spencer sees in you. You do have a good voice, I have to give you that." She stepped forward a little, and Ashley backed up more, until she felt my left hand come up and press against her back, telling her to stop.

"Glad you enjoyed the show," Ashley replied, her lips curling up into a grim smile. "Too bad you're not invited to the after party."

Carmen pursed her lips, feigning sadness. "I have an after party of my own planned. You're not invited." She turned her eyes towards me, and I felt my stomach roll. "But she is." Carmen finished, licking her lips.

"You're not going anywhere near her." Ashley growled. She let go of my hand, and I desperately reached out for it, feeling panic run through my veins. She stepped forward now, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see Aiden and Kyla reach us.

Carmen held up both of her hands now. "I'm not here to cause any trouble," she stated.

"Why else would you be here?" Ashley asked as Aiden and Kyla walked up beside her, both of their bodies shielding me from Carmen. Aiden looked down at me, his eyebrows pinched in anger. He tried his best to throw me a smile, trying to comfort me.

"I want to talk to Spencer. Alone." Carmen raised an eyebrow, and glanced over at me.

"Yeah, right. Not going to happen," Ashley replied quickly.

Carmen rolled her eyes. "I promise I won't hurt her." She waved her hand in the air, and her two friends backed up a little bit. "Now can I please talk to my girlfriend?"

Ashley stepped forward a little, her hands curled up into fists. "She's not your girlfriend anymore. So there's the door," She pointed her hand towards the exit. "Learn to use it." Stepping back towards me, she reached for my hand, but this time I didn't reach out for it. Instead, I stepped past her and Aiden, so that I was in front of Ashley, facing Carmen.

"Spence, what are you-" she started, but out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Kyla place a hand on her sisters arm, a comforting gesture, but I was sure it wouldn't calm Ashley's nerves. She gritted her teeth, and from the way her body was tensed up, I could sense she wanted to push Kyla out of the way to get to me. Turning to face her, I faked a half smile.

"I'll only be a moment." Without waiting for a reply, I started walking, and I didn't need to look back to know that Carmen was following me. I lead her away from the others, and from her friends, into a small area of the bar, which looked mostly unoccupied. I twisted around on my heels, and crossed my arms over my chest. "So what do you want?" I asked her, trying hard not to let my body shake from simply being in her presence.

Carmen took a deep breath, and looked over to the others. Ashley and Aiden were watching her intently, their eyes narrowed in suspicion. Trying to ignore them, she turned her full attention back to me. "I'm sorry."

My eyes widened in surprise. "What?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and yet I knew she had said it. It came so clearly from her mouth, and I even saw her mouth the words. But my mind couldn't comprehend what she said. "What?" I asked again, still reeling from the shock.

"I said I'm sorry." She repeated it patiently, and calm. Shifting on her feet like a thirteen year old, she lifted a hand and scratched at the back of her neck, something she does when she's nervous. Which is hardly ever. She lifted her gaze from the floor to me, and took a deep swallow, the lump in her throat rising up and down with the gesture.

"Sorry?" I shook my head, still not able to process anything she was saying. After all the months I've known her, I had never heard her say it and mean it. But the way she said it to me, with such guilt dripping from her voice, I could tell she meant it.

"About everything." She licked at her lips, trying to find the right words. "I have not been the best girlfriend. Actually, I've been the worst girlfriend. But with everything that's been going on, I've been taking my anger out on you, and that was no excuse to act towards you the way I did."

"What's been going on?" I asked, genuinely curious.

"You know Marcus, my friend?" When I nodded, she continued on. "He was found last night, murdered in cold blood." I saw tears well up in her eyes, and she lifted up her hand to wipe at them angrily. "One of the rival gangs murdered him, because of some stupid deal they had going with us."

"Carmen, I'm so sorry." I actually meant it, too. I knew how much Marcus meant to her, as I'd known him in the months Carmen and I dated. He was like a brother to her, and even though I didn't agree with the road he was taking Carmen down, getting back into her gang ways, and drugs, he was still a good friend, nonetheless.

She stepped forward, but I found myself not backing up. "I need you, Spencer. I have no one else now, and it's so lonely not seeing you everyday." She lowered her head and let out a small sob, and I stepped forward instinctively. "Please, Spencer. I love you. I really do." She lifted her head again, and sniffled loudly, wiping at her nose with the back of her hand.

I looked back towards Ashley, who was still watching us with concern. She shook her head at me, as if knowing what direction this would go in. She started to step forward, but Kyla held her tightly, her hand bound to Ashley's arm. Looking back at Carmen, I took a deep breath. "If I go with you, will you leave Ashley and them alone?"

"As long as they don't bother me and my friends." She held a hand up and ran a thumb over my chin, and I closed my eyes, all the feelings I had for her flooding back to me in one gigantic wave of emotion. I felt her body move closer, and then her hand clasp in mine. "I missed you." She whispered into my ear.

I opened my eyes, and Carmen started leading us back to the others. As we stopped in front of Ashley, Carmen let go of my hand and stepped back, waiting for me to say something. I turned towards Ashley, and I saw the glimmer in her eyes as tears threatened to fall from them. She already knew my answer, but she was just waiting for me to confirm it.

"Spencer, no." She pleaded, almost begged. Her voice cracked as she spoke, and she lifted a hand to cover her mouth. "Don't go back with her." She mumbled.

"I have to go." I replied, wearily. Twisting my head, my eyes wandered to Kyla, who was standing still, her hands clenched by her side. Aiden walked up beside her and placed an arm around her shoulders, rubbing her back comfortingly with the other. "I'm so sorry." I turned to go, but I felt Ashley grab my arm, and pull me back, a little rough.

"No!" She yelled, gripping tighter on my arm. I let out a pained gasp, and struggled against her grip.

"Ashley, you're hurting me!" I wrapped my fingers around her hand, trying to pry her fingers from my wrist. "Please, let go!"

Finally, her grip loosened, and she let me go. I rubbed at the now red area where her fingers left indents. She cocked her head a little to the side, biting her lower lip.

"Fine, go." She snapped harshly. Stepping back, she waved her arms out in front of her. "Leave. But don't come crying to me, when she beats you down into the ground! If you're stupid enough to go back to her, then you deserve everything you get!" At the last sentence, her eyes widened, and she held a hand over her mouth again, horrified, to cut herself off.

I felt my heart stop for a millisecond, and I faltered a little, falling back into the wall. I threw out a hand to support myself, looking down at the ground. I heard footsteps come up beside me, and didn't need to look up to see who they belonged to. A hand was placed on my arm.

"Let's go home." Carmen whispered, and I just nodded in agreement. She grabbed onto my hand, and we started walking past Ashley, who was looking at the ground, silent tears falling from her eyes, and trailing down her cheeks. I looked away, and didn't look back as Carmen led me outside, and towards her car.

As soon as I got into the passenger side, I laid my head against the cool glass window. The doors opened, and Carmen and her friends got into the car, Carmen in the drivers side. She placed a hand on my leg, and I pulled away from the window and leaned into her, laying my head on her shoulder. We said nothing for the whole ride home.

As soon as we reached her house, Carmen gestured for her two friends to leave the car. They obeyed, and headed into the house, leaving us alone. She nuzzled me gently, and twisted around in her seat. "You should get some sleep." She reached for the keys and twisted the ignition off.

I let her lead me inside the house, into her room, which I had only been in once. The walls were plastered with posters, and the bed, if it could even be called that, laid in the corner of the room, covered in old blankets and battered pillows. I sat down on the edge of the bed, and she sat down beside me.

"You alright?" She asked, and I just nodded. I felt too weak to say or do anything. She leaned in to say something, but then a ringer cut her off. Her cell phone. She lifted it out of her pocket to see who it was, and grimaced at the name. "Shit." She turned to me and gave me a small peck on the head. "I'll be right back, baby." As she stood up off the bed, the cot creaked, and scooted to the end of the bed, so that my back was against the wall. I lifted my legs up to my chest, and rested my head on my knees.

I started to close my eyes, when I heard Carmen's shouts echo through the house. Wincing as every pierce rang through my head, I crawled over to the end of the bed, and climbed off. I started to head towards the door, to close it, when it burst open suddenly, and I fell back a little, frightened and startled.

"Stupid son of a bitch!" Carmen screeched, whipping her phone out of her hands. It crashed against the wall with a loud smash, and fell to the ground, scattering some stray pieces along the carpet. She ran a hand through her hand and kicked at the ground, sending pieces of papers flying everywhere.

"Carmen, what's wrong?" I asked, stepping towards her. She turned to me, and I felt my mouth drop open. In that moment, she looked like a rabid animal, her face beet red, eyes wide, teeth gritted together. She didn't seem to notice me at first, until her eyes finally registered me.

"One of the gang members just went after one of my friends!" She screamed. She threw her hands out in front of her.

"Is he OK?" I flinched as she stepped towards me.

"He will be, in six weeks, when his fucking leg cast heals!" She growled loudly in her throat and placed her head in her hands. I stepped over to her and tried to lower her hands gently, to get a better look at her face. Furious, she whipped her hands out and pushed me aside, flinging me onto the bed. "This week has not been going well." She let out a small chuckle, but there was no humor in it. "First, one of my best friends dies, then you leave me for Ashley, of all people. Then one of my men are incapacitated for a few weeks."

"I don't know what you want me to do about all of this," I stuttered, scooting back on the bed as she came over to the bed, and sat down on it.

"I just want to feel something besides pain." She shook her head, and shifted to look at me. "Help me feel anything." Her hand moved over to my shoulder, and I felt her give it a squeeze, before lowering it down my back. She pulled me closer with one pull.

"Carmen..." I started, as she moved in closer, her lips connecting with my neck. "This won't help." I placed my hands on her chest and pushed her away, a little more roughly than I meant to. I tried to avoid her gaze as she pulled back.

"What, you suddenly don't want me like that anymore?" There was anger growing in her voice, and she stood up off the bed. "You should be lucky that I even want to do it with you, after all the guys and girls you've slept with. Like Ashley." She huffed out her name.

"Don't you dare talk about her." I whispered harshly.

Carmen knelt down in front of me, trying to get my focus. "What, you think she's so much better than anyone else you've dated?" When I didn't answer, she grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled me towards her, ignoring my gasps of pain. "She's probably no better than some whore you'd find off the street." She let go of my hair and my head flew back, hair flying in the face, blinding me.

I wiped the hair out of my face, anger growing within me. With all the strength I could muster, I looked up at Carmen, locking eyes with her. "She's better in bed than you'll ever be!" I spat, immediately regretting it as Carmen reached over and slapped me hard across the face. I felt my lip split, and blood flowed down my chin, staining her bedspread.

"We'll see about that," Carmen hissed, pushing me back onto the bed. She straddled me, her legs pinning my arms down. Her hands roamed over my chest, and her fingers played with the hem of my shirt. Quickly, she pulled my top off, and I struggled against her weight, to try and get her off.

She shifted lower, her hands now roaming to the belt of my jeans. She leaned down and placed a small kiss on my bare stomach. Letting her weight shift off me, she undid my belt, and loosened my jeans.

"Carmen, please don't..." I cried out, but she reacted quickly, as I felt another fist connect with my face. I felt her hands wander to my inner thighs, and I found myself reacting to her touch. My body tingled as she leaned down to kiss my lips. The kiss was sloppy and wet, and I held back a grimace.

"We'll just see who's better." She mumbled, as she pulled down my jeans.

"Carmen, don't!" I screamed, but she ignored me and continued roaming her hands over my body.

"No!"

***

I felt numb. Everything hurt. My bones ached with the feeling of coldness, even though I was half covered with a wool blanket. It felt itchy against my bare skin, and I wanted more than anything to reach up and scratch at the itch. But my muscles wouldn't react. My brain wouldn't send the message to the limbs, telling them to move. Telling me to move.

I heard a door open and close, and I buried my head deeper into the blanket, as someone sat down on the bed, the mattress creaking under their weight. A hand roamed over the blanket, feeling heavy on my back. I bit my lip, trying to hold back a sob.

"See, Baby, what happens when you make me angry?" Carmen's voice broke through the blanket, and her fingers clutched the blanket. She lifted it off me a little, revealing my head. She let a finger roam over my face, and I flinched back from her touch. "I'm sorry, but I had to do that." She looked towards the door, where her friend, Paco, stood, grinning. "And I'm sorry that Paco had to be a part of this too."

I felt a few tears fall from my eyes as the memories rushed back into my head. "I want to go home," I sobbed. "Please, just let me go home."

Carmen nodded and stood up off the bed. She gestured to Paco, who stepped forward and bent down to grab my clothes. He passed them to Carmen, who simply threw them at me. "Get dressed. Paco will drive you home when you're ready." She grabbed Paco by the arm gently and lead him out of the room, closing the door behind her.

It took me a few moments to get up off the bed, every part of my body feeling weak and numb. I gathered my clothes from the pile on the bed and rushed to put them on, trying to hold back a few sobs of pain, as the pressure on my stomach and legs ached more with every movement I made. I finally finished and stumbled over to the vanity, where I sat down on the stool. I lifted my head and looked at myself in the mirror, and couldn't hold back the cry that came out of my mouth. My fingers hovered over my face, as I looked at my reflection, my beaten and battered face staring back at me. I could only imagine what the rest of me looked like.

A knock at the door jarred me from my thoughts, and I stood up, cradling an arm to my sore ribs as Carmen entered. She looked me over quickly, and nodded, as if in approval. She helped me down the stairs, and when we got to the front door, she turned to me. "I love you." She ran a hand through my hair, ignoring my winces. "I'll see you tomorrow, baby." She leaned in and gave me a kiss on the lips. I was too weak to resist, so I went along with it. Then she handed me over to Paco, who wasn't so gentle with me, as proven by the marks on my body, pulled me into the car.

He started the car, and his hand free hand roamed down towards my thigh. "I was thinking we could have a bit of fun before I got you home." He grinned and put the car in reverse, and started backing it out of the driveway. As we drove along the streets of China Town, his fingers constantly tickled along my legs.

I felt the car jolt to a stop, and, looking out the window, I saw that we were parked in an alley. I heard the drivers side door open, and he came over to my side, pulling the door open. He grabbed at my jacket, and pulled me out of the car, not bothering to catch me as I fell onto my side.

"Get up!" He yelled, and grabbed me by the elbow. He pulled me up and shoved me into a wall, and I felt my legs give out, but he held me up with one free hand, while the other played with the buckle of my belt. My eyes felt heavy and swollen, and I just leaned into his touch. I wanted to feel something, anything, other than this pain.

He started undoing his own jeans, when I heard someone shout in the distance. He let go of me and I fell back onto the ground, my head smashing into the brick wall. My eyelids felt heavy as I tried to stay conscious.

"Get away from her!"

My eyes widened as much as they could. I recognized that voice.

Kyla.

I twisted my head, and saw that she and Aiden were standing in front of Paco, Aiden ready for battle. "Kyla!" I tried to shout, but it came out as a gurgle, as blood spilled out my mouth. She looked towards me, the expression on her face unreadable.

I heard Paco mumble something, then his heavy footsteps as he got into his car. It pulled out of the alley, and as soon as the car was a few seconds away, I heard Kyla and Aiden running towards me. Kyla dropped down beside me, her hands flying to my head, to support it.

"Oh God, Spencer, what happened to you?" She asked, holding my head to her chest and she spoke to Aiden. "Call an ambulance. Now!" She ran a hand over my back, and I let out a cry of pain, my fingers curling around her jacket. "It's OK, Spencer, we're here." Kyla assured me.

"No..hospital." I mumbled, trying my best to stay awake.

"Honey, we have to get you to one. You're badly hurt." Her voice started cracking, and I could tell she was trying hard not to cry.

"Get me..." I trailed off.

"Spencer? Honey?" Kyla asked.

"Ashley...." I finished. My eyelids started to close, and I felt Kyla's warm arms embrace me as I fell into darkness.