DISCLAIMER: I do not own the rights to anything related to The Town.
This is fiction.
Any original characters belong to me.
Title: Ugly Side Of Love
Author: Aveline Archer
Characters: Jem Coughlin, Doug MacRay, Brooklyn "Brook" Johnson (OC), Isobel "Belle" O'Reilly (OC)
Genre: Romance, Drama, Angst
Summary: He sounded desperate, craving the love I could give him but he was too proud to admit it. He would never give me the preference of a happy life…not as long as we were in this world. This was the ugly side of love.
A/N - So this was meant to be a one-shot for my friend Ace, but after finishing Spy of Light I actually felt kinda lost without Jem, so I decided to turn this into a multi-chapter story. I admit, I have no idea where this is going, my fingers are doing the talking and my brain is running to catch up.
1 – Losing All Control
"It ends bloody, or sad…it's just the life Brook."
From where I was draped across the double bed; still damp after a hot shower, I stared up at Jem Coughlin as his words made goose-bumps rise across my pale flesh. I hated seeing him in pain let alone hearing the depressed tone part his lips. He was the broken toy I desperately wanted to fix.
After months of watching him come into the bar I worked at and drown himself in alcohol every night, only to confess his secrets when his blue eyes and hands became unsteady, the odd feeling of attachment had grown. I was a lonely girl falling in love with a criminal; nothing like this was meant to happen. Not after all the years I spent ignoring him.
How the tables had shifted dramatically, catching both of us off guard but was it love? Did these dark nights we spent together mean anything more than just satisfying our lust?
I couldn't understand human feelings at the best of times or even recall the last man to make me weak at the knees with a simple smile. Every night when he waltzed into the bar my heart almost jumped out of my chest, and deep down I knew I'd like nothing better than to spend all my time lost in his embrace.
I opened my mouth to comfort him but couldn't quite form the words in my head let alone on my tongue. I raised my shoulders in a hopeless shrug, allowing myself to frown as he tugged a T-shirt over his bare chest.
"I need a beer." Jem's announcement ended the conversation, his feelings shut tightly behind the solid wall around his heart. And no sucker like me would break through it.
Sliding up upon my knees, I drew the soft material of one of Jem's old hoodies tightly against my slender figure watching the man of my dreams grab his car keys and swing them round his index finger.
"We could stay in; get take out?" I suggested hopefully.
Jem's pace slowed as he walked to his bedroom door, glancing over his shoulder so I could see that his smile didn't reach his bright blue eyes. "Not tonight."
I felt the rejection stab my very soul. He walked out of the bedroom, the door clicking into place and leaving me alone with nothing but his lingering scent of cigarettes and old spice cologne as my comfort. I chewed on my bottom lip while the noisy bedside clock ticked over, the minutes passing me by until I gathered enough sense to climb off the bed and finish packing what belongings littered the room.
I paused to run a hand back through my short black hair, mentally cursing this tragic behaviour; I was lusting after a man who easily tossed me aside when he got what he wanted. Shifting the bag onto my shoulder, I heaved a sigh and turned towards the door as it flew open.
"I forgot my fuckin' wallet…" My shocked blue eyes watched Jem re-enter through the doorframe, his hand falling from the handle as he looked between me and my bag. "Where you going Brook?"
I pursed my lips. Wasn't it obvious I was leaving? I even followed his gaze to make sure I really was holding my bag and not just imagining all this.
"No you ain't."
I shook my head walking towards Jem only for his strong hands to grip my arms and stop me dead in my place.
"Are you fuckin' kidding me?" I looked up at him struggling to move in the vice break Jem possessed, my body wasn't as strong as his even on a good day. "You want me, you don't want me…make up your damn mind!"
"I ain't meaning that." He instantly released me like I'd electrocuted him.
"Well, I'm leaving anyway…I'm sure AA would love to hear from you!"
I pushed my way pass him, walking out of the house and into the cold night air. My gaze began to blur, tears threatening to spill from the corners of my eyes. How did my emotions change so quickly? I needed to punch something.
Gripping my bag I picked up my walking pace as Jem called my name, his voice echoing along the quiet street. He sounded desperate, craving the love I could give him but he was too proud to admit it. He would never give me the happy life I dreamt of…not as long as we were in this world.
This was the ugly side of love.
I rapped my knuckles against the wooden door, glancing up and down the quiet street in front of the newly restored townhouses. I heard footsteps approach on the other side of the door, the locks being unbolted before the door moved away from the frame revealing my childhood friend.
Isobel O'Reilly was dressed in a simple pair of black satin pyjama pants, white tank top with her brown waves falling loose around her tired features. She was the closest thing to family I had these days.
"Hey Belle," I murmured feeling my bottom lip tremble as she opened her arms.
"Come here B."
The moment her arms enfolded me, I began sobbing like a little kid. I couldn't stop even if I wanted to; the tears kept flowing even after Isobel brought me inside and sat us down on the couch. She held me in her arms, gently combing her fingers through my hair until my sobs turned into a whimper.
"You're a sucker for punishment B,"
"I-I love him." I whispered pulling myself from her arms, sitting up properly to wipe my damp face with the hoodie sleeves.
"What's to love about the bastard? You spend more time crying over him than anything else,"
"I thought you of all people would understand," I watched as she ran a hand back through her hair. "You have a past with Jem,"
"Ha! We dated four weeks in high school, hardly an epic romance!"
"He said you broke up 'cause you slept with Doug,"
She rolled her hazel eyes climbing off the couch. "He's a lying little shit. He was dating some white trash toonie the next day."
Isobel crossed the room, entering the kitchen where she flicked on the jug and grabbed a couple of cups from a cupboard. I got up and followed, hopping up on the marble counter to watch her make us a coffee.
"Did you love him?"
Her posture stiffened slightly before she faced me.
"I was sixteen B, I fell so hard I'm still recovering from it but Jem has that effect on girls. He's a badass, and the worse he treats you the more you want him…and the cocky sonofabitch knows that."
"But you loved him anyway,"
She grabbed my chin forcing our eyes to lock. "You gotta stop torturing yourself. You need to tell him how you feel, find out where you stand so you know whether to move on or not."
"I think he loves me…but he'd never say so."
"Then you've got a choice to make, do you let him keep treating you like his sex slave or find someone who will treat you right?" She released my chin and turned back to the jug as it began boiling. She filled the two cups and placed one in my grasp, glancing at the clock on the wall. "I want you to move back in with me,"
"No, I like my place."
"It's a dump B, a breeding ground for godknows what nasty shit."
"Belle, I don't need a babysitter,"
"I promised your mom I'd watch out for you," I swallowed my mouthful of coffee, the liquid burning my vocal cords as it rushed down. "She took me in after my parents died and it's the only way I can repay her kindness. We're family B, all we've got is each other and god be damned I'm not gonna let you rot in some dump motel room or worse, Jem's house. I let you have your freedom, but I think it's time I stepped in."
I felt my cheeks grow hot. I wanted to hate her for the way she read me like a book. But she knew all the chapters, and helped create a few of them. She'd been the only constant person in my life, standing at my side through hormones, boys, and even my mother's battle with cancer. She was right. And I hated to admit it.
"It'll only take one trip to get my shit,"
"Good, the spare room is already set up and you can borrow my car." She nodded her head towards the keys to her flash silver Mini Cooper at the opposite end of the counter. "I've got a job in a few hours, so I won't be back till this afternoon."
I nodded as she finished the coffee and set the cup in the sink. "What would I do without Belle?"
"Let's hope you never have to find out." She smiled walking back to her bedroom.