#TUS 6. The Beast had left his mark on her

Despite all of Kelsey’s arguments, Natasha and Max started dating and everything was going well. Enough to make even Kelsey think she might have been wrong about Max. Until two months later when everything changed.

November 2013

“You’re being unreasonable Max,” Natasha said as calmly as she could.

“I’m being unreasonable!” Max yelled slapping his palms against the wall Natasha was leaning against. She shivered and drew the large jacket she was wearing tighter around her body. “James had his hands all over my girlfriend and when I voice out my dislike of that I’m called unreasonable.”

“He did not have his hands all over me! My butterfingers decided my dress needed my lunch more than I did and Jamie  offered me his jacket to cover up the huge spaghetti stain,” Natasha yelled back, now equally livid.

“Take that jacket off,” Max said angrily.

“No,” Natasha refused stubbornly.

“Natasha!” ‘ Max said threateningly.

“Maxwell.”

“I said take it off!” Max grabbed the collar of the jacket and pulled at it roughly.

“Are you seriously freaking out about something as stupid as a borrowed coat? Stop acting like a child and…” Natasha was saying when Max slapped her hard across her left cheek.

Natasha stared at him, shocked as she rubbed her cheek which was turning red from the force of the slap.

“What the hell, Max?” she asked him angrily. He at least had the decency to look ashamed of himself.

“I’m so sorry Natasha. I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry,” Max said horrified at what he had done. He released his hold on the collar of the jacket she was wearing and took a step back away from her. Natasha walked away from him still nursing her stinging cheek. 

Natasha had to literally drag Kelsey away  before she hurled stones at Max after witnessing the slap from a few miles away.

Max apologized for a whole week until Natasha forgave him and agreed to give their relationship another chance even though Kelsey kicked up a fuss about the whole issue. Natasha brushed the slap off as a one-time event despite Kelsey’s warnings that if it could happen once, it could happen again as with all forms of abuse. A month later, Max proved Kelsey right.

December 2013

Lily was away in the capital for a major case and so Natasha was home alone for a whole week. Kelsey couldn’t keep her company either because she was away visiting a sick aunt in the neighboring town. So all she had was Max who dropped in occasionally and the telly. 

One night while Natasha was watching a movie downstairs she heard a loud banging at the door. She sat quietly listening to the incessant banging debating calling 911. Just when she was dialing 911, the person who was banging on the door started yelling and she immediately recognized the voice. It was Max.

“Are you crazy?” she asked him when she finally opened the door.

“Hie beaurriful,” Max said drunkenly, barely able to stand straight.

“You’re drunk,” Natasha said exasperated.

“As a skunk,” Max snorted pushing his way past her and into the house, crashing into some pieces of furniture en route to the lounge. He collapsed onto the nearest couch and lay back on it. Natasha closed the door then went and joined him in the lounge.

“Please tell me you didn’t drive here in this state.” Natasha called over her shoulder as she disappeared into the kitchen. 

“I walked a thousand miles for you darling,” Max called out to her retreating back.

“Be serious Max,” Natasha scolded him as she came back with a glass of water and held it out to him.

Max peered at the glass and made a face at her. “Don’t you have something a little stronger? I was having Brandy, I think  and I’d rather not mix my beverages.” 

“Just pretend it’s brandy. At this point I doubt you can tell the difference.” Natasha placed the glass against his lips and he took a sip before turning his head away and making a disgusted face.

“You have crap pretend brandy.” Max kicked off his shoes and laid back on the couch, eyes closed.

“What happened? You never get this drunk,” Natasha asked worriedly brushing some strands of black hair away from his forehead.

Max sighed, leaning into her touch but kept his eyes closed. “My family sucks.”

“Why?” Natasha didn’t get an answer. A loud buzzing sound from the table startled her and Max groaned. 

She picked up Max’s phone. “It’s your brother.” 

“I don’t have a brother,” Max said. “Switch it off.”

Natasha ignored him and answered the call instead, standing up to switch off the movie she’d been watching.

“Hie Mac, it’s Natasha.”

“Natasha? Thank God. Is he okay?” Macmillan Bandieer, Max’s older brother asked.

“He’s a little out of it but he’s crashing on my couch right -” 

A loud crash by the wall next to where she stood  stopped her mid-sentence. She stared in shock at the drops of water trailing down from the wall and disappearing into the pile of glass shards on the floor. She whipped around, phone still held to her ear and found Max’s bloodshot eyes staring daggers at her.

“Natasha? What was that? What’s going on?” Macmillan’s panicked voice came through the speaker. Max was making his way towards Natasha now, surprisingly steady. Natasha snapped out of her momentary state of shock and anger replaced it.

“You could have hit me with that glass!”

“Put the phone down,” Max said in a deathly calm voice. Natasha took a small step away from him. She knew Max well enough to know that this was the calm before the storm but she held on to the phone.

“I said hang up and put the phone down. Now.” His brown eyes held a promise in them and Natasha knew there was only one thing she could do. Run.

Her eyes darted around the room, trying to find a way to escape but Max realized what she was up to and lunged for her before she could get away. He ripped the phone from her hand and threw it against the wall. It landed on the floor, sharing the same fate as the water glass. He pushed her against the wall caging her in with his arms.

“Get off of me!” Natasha tried to shove Max away from her but he was too strong.

“Why did you call him?” Max asked her, still maintaining a calm demeanor. His liquor laced breath made Natasha retch.

“I didn’t call him, I just answered your phone. Your brother was worried about you.” She stopped struggling. Maybe if she feigned submission he would relax and let her go.

“He is not my brother!” Max gripped her arms, practically crushing them. All semblance of calmness disappeared from his features. Goodbye calm, hello storm.

“Max, stop it! You’re hurting me!” Natasha screamed. She kicked out at him and caught his shin but that only angered him more. He became something akin to an enraged bull,  pulling at her limbs, hair and skin and causing Natasha so much agony, all the while muttering incoherently. He was so blinded by rage that he didn’t see that Natasha was now bleeding. She finally managed to push him off and ran for the door but Max got to her before she could reach it and spun her around to face him.

“Max, please!” Natasha begged as the first punch landed on her stomach making her double over in pain. She tried to call out for help and he threw her against the wall. Her head hit the wall and she slumped down to the ground. She was barely conscious but she kept her eyes firmly shut, praying Max would think she was dead or something and leave.

“Natasha?” Max called out to her but got no response. She was lying very still, trying not to give away that she could hear him.

“Oh no, what have I done!” Max exclaimed horrified as he stared down at Natasha’s seemingly lifeless body. Panic-stricken, he ran out of the house and into the dark, running as fast and as far as he could from Natasha’s house.

Relief flooded Natasha’s body and she relaxed and let herself fall into a sleep like state. She regained consciousness an hour later, upstairs on her bed. Someone had cleaned her up then tucked her in. She winced as pain shot through her whole body when she tried to sit up and her head felt like it weighed a tonne. She reached up and tentatively touched the side of her head that had smashed into the wall. A bandage covered her entire head, keeping her from assessing her scar. She would have a hell of a time explaining this one to her mother.

“Don’t try to sit up yet Miss Evans,” said a female voice somewhere in the room. Natasha moved her head slowly to the left to see who had spoken.

“Who are you?” she asked weakly. Her throat was very dry and talking hurt.

“My name is Sarah. I’m a nurse,” the girl answered smiling kindly at her as she held a cup of water to Natasha’s lips. Natasha took a few sips and thanked Sarah for the water.

“She’s awake?” said a male voice from Natasha’s open bedroom door. Sarah nodded at whoever had spoken and he entered the room.

“Hello Natasha,” said the big burly man.

“Mac?” Natasha said surprised to see Max’s brother, “What are you doing here?”

“When you told me that Max was drunk and then you got cut off mid-sentence and I heard scuffling I got worried. I came as fast as I could and found your door wide open and you lying on the ground unconscious, covered in bruises and blood. I called over a doctor friend of mine and a nurse to come look after you. What happened?” Macmillan said.

“Max,” Natasha replied somberly, “He was drunk so I answered his phone when you called and he flipped out and attacked me.”

“I am so sorry Natasha for my brother’s behavior. I assure you, once we find him he will be dealt with accordingly,” Macmillan said reassuringly.

“You don’t mind getting your brother arrested?” Natasha asked surprised. It would definitely be a scandal, ‘son of the richest man in Pinehive abusing the Judge’s daughter’. News like that wouldn’t go away quickly in a small town like Pinehive.

“You deserve justice for what was done to you, even if it means he gets locked up,” said Macmillan gravely.

“Thank you. I know it can’t be easy with your family’s reputation,” said Natasha.

They heard another knock on the door and Henry Bandieer came in.

“I hope you don’t mind Natasha. I called my father too,” said Macmillan.

“No, it’s alright. It’s a pleasure to meet you sir,” said Natasha in awe that she was finally meeting the famous Henry Bandieer.

“I wish I could say the same,” said Henry coldly. Both Natasha and Mac were taken aback at the tone of his voice.

“Where is he?” he asked. Macmillan then told him the whole story about Max attacking Natasha and fleeing.

“He did this to you?” Henry asked nodding at the bandage on her head.

“Yes sir,” Natasha replied. Henry asked to be left alone with her so Macmillan and the nurse exited the room.

“I am sorry Natasha about what happened to you today. I’m sure we can reach an understanding on how much compensation you want,” said Henry taking out his cheque book and a pen.

“Excuse me?” Natasha asked confused.

“How much money do you want for the damages?” Henry said flipping to a blank page in his cheque book, pen at the ready.

“Damages?” Natasha asked in disbelief, “With all due respect Mr Bandieer, your son did not break a few pieces of furniture or damage some property. He hurt a human being. He scratched, punched and literally almost killed me! The only money you should be worrying about is the bail money for your son once I have him sent to jail!” Natasha shouted angrily.

***

“He offered you money after his son beat you up?” Nathan asked angrily. Natasha nodded absentmindedly. She had stashed that memory far in the back of her mind but recalling it today had brought her some clarity.

“He wrote a cheque and told me to keep my mouth shut or else. I never cashed it but I never told anyone either. I’m sorry I offloaded my sob story on you Detective.”

“It’s okay Natasha. And you can call me Nathan.” Natasha gave him a small smile.

“Okay, Nathan.”

“So that day when we questioned you at the police station, you lied when you said you had never met Henry Bandieer,” said Nathan.

“I couldn’t tell the truth, you know how it would look.”

“You still should have said something. Max needs to be apprehended for abusing you, several times,” Nathan argued.

“I can’t, Nathan. They’ll just come after my family, guns blazing. Literal guns,” said Natasha shaking her head.

“Henry is dead. His threats don’t matter anymore, if that’s what you are afraid of,” Nathan argued but Natasha still shook her head.

“Did Max hurt you again after that?”

“No.”

“So he stopped. Just like that?”

Natasha stiffened. “I’m tired Detective. I’d like to get some rest.”

Nathan was surprised at her abrupt change of subject but he didn’t argue. “I witnessed Max assaulting you today and I’m going to charge him for it. That’ll give you 24 hours before he’s bailed out to decide if you are going to come forward with the truth.”

Nathan stood and placed her phone in her hand. “I really hope you make the right decision and we’ll talk some more about Henry’s threat when you get better. I’ll find out when you’ll be discharged then I’ll come back and take you home.”

Natasha nodded, wanting him to leave so she could remain alone with her thoughts of a piece of the memory that she had kept from Nathan.

“Damages?” Natasha asked in disbelief, “With all due respect Mr Bandieer, your son did not break a few pieces of furniture or damage some property. He hurt a human being. He scratched, punched and literally almost killed me! The only money you should be worrying about is the bail money for your son once I have him sent to jail!” Natasha shouted angrily.

“You foolish girl,” Henry said in an irritated voice, “Listen here Natasha. I know your kind; you are nothing but gold digging trash ready to make a quick buck by taking advantage of rich families like mine, just like your mother. I was willing to give you this money out of the goodness of my heart so we can all forget about this mess. I’m still going to give you some money as a reminder of what I am about to say. You won’t go to the police about this and you won’t tell your mother or any of your friends what happened here today or else I will ruin your mother’s career and the lives of every single person you tell,” said Henry menacingly. 

His golden fountain pen flew across the paper as he wrote out a cheque and Natasha caught a glimpse of the letters H.B engraved on it. He placed the cheque on Natasha’s bed before turning to leave the room and her eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw the figure written on it. Half a million dollars! 

He turned back at the door and gave her a chilling smile. “The rotten apple really doesn’t fall far from the rotten tree.” 

***

Next Post: #TUS: 7. Unbeknownst to the Knight

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