Jane didn’t think she would go back to the support group. Listening to women talk about the abusive relationships they were in was not how she wanted to spend her time. It was depressing and she questioned whoever thought it was a good idea. She thought all of this, yet she walked into the building and made her way to the meeting.
Joanne smiled warmly at her when she stepped into the room.
“Ladies, please find your seats,” Joanne called out. She beckoned for Jane to join the group and sit beside her. It was as if Joanne was protecting her. At least until she was ready to share her own story.
All of the women filed over to the chairs and took their seats. “Jenna,” Joanne said. Jane found Jenna immediately. Jenna was pretty. A classic beauty. She had red hair that fell in waves down her back, green eyes and full lips. She ran her hands down the front of her purple skinny jeans and sat forward.
“When I was a little girl, like maybe ten or eleven, I fantasized about my wedding. All girls do that right?” Jenna looked around for affirmation. Every head in the room nodded. “I always thought it would be the happiest day of my life. That I would walk down the aisle and stand beside my prince charming and when he vowed to love and protect me forever, that he would mean it. I should have known not to go through with it when I got ready to marry Liam.”
Jane closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Jenna’s recount of her wedding day sounded a lot like her own. She had been terrified of what it would mean to be married to Mason, and yet she was more afraid to tell him that she didn’t want to marry him. Her mother was a big fan of Mason and always gushed about him whenever the two of them were alone. It had a lot to do with the fact that her mother was unaware of what a monster Mason truly was. If she told her mother to help her run away. To help her get out of marrying the man her mother trusted, she would have had to tell her the truth and that was something Jane didn’t think she could do.
She had kept everything a secret for so long, she figured she would just have to live with it. It had been her choice to start a relationship with Mason, and her choice to stay when things had turned sour. Making the decision to tie herself to him until death, had not been an easy one and she knew she couldn’t take it back.
Jane stood in the dressing room staring at her reflection in the mirror. She had to admit that she looked beautiful in the gown that Mason had helped pick out, no amount of makeup could hide the fear in her eyes. At least not to her.
Her mother walked over and stood behind her. She placed her hands on her shoulders and looked into the mirror meeting her eyes. “You look absolutely beautiful,” she said. Jane forced her lips into a smile. The act seemed false to her but her mother was oblivious.
“Thanks ma,” she said.
“You and Mason are going to be so happy,” her mother squealed. She gave her shoulders a tight squeeze and walked away. Jane’s smile faded from her face. She wished that she could believe what her mother said was true but she didn’t.
The wedding planner stepped into the room and announced that they had five minutes before the ceremony started. Jane closed her eyes and sent up a quick prayer that her marriage would somehow change Mason for the better. That her becoming his wife would make him become a more gentle person. The person she had met and fallen in love with. Her best friend walked over to her and caught her eyes in the mirror.
“it’s not too late to run. I could have you out of here in three minutes.”
“You know I can’t run.”
“You can’t marry him either.” She lowered her eyes from her best friend’s. The only person who knew the truth. She had found out after wrapping her arms around Jane for a hug and instantly stopping when Jane winced in pain. When Jane had tried to brush it off, her friend wouldn’t let it go. Even going as far as to yank up Jane’s shirt and finding the bruises around her torso. She constantly tried to talk Jane into leaving Mason but it was no use. Jane wouldn’t leave him and soon she would be in it for life.
“I have to go get married,” Jane said turning from her and following the wedding planner from the room. Jane stood at the back of the church from view as her best friend walked down the aisle. She took her spot at the altar shooting eye daggers at Mason the entire time. When the music changed, Jane took her mothers hand and they walked down the aisle together. She stopped beside Mason and he took her hand.
“Friends and family, we are gathered here today to witness the union of Jane and Mason,” the pastor began.
Jane lowered her eyes and blocked everything out. She didn’t hear a thing the pastor said and wasn’t sure where they were in the ceremony until she felt a tight squeeze of her hand. She winced and tried not to cry out. Her eyes raised to meet Mason’s. She could tell by the tightness of his jaw that he was angry, though he was trying to hide it with a smile.
She turned to the pastor. “Yeah?”
“We’ll try this again,” he chuckled. The patrons followed suit. “Repeat after me. I, Jane.”
Jane turned to Mason and opened her mouth, that felt like she had eaten chalk, and repeated the words the pastor said to Mason. She stayed focused through the rings and kiss. Mason bit her bottom lip. Not in a sexy erotic way, but in a way that was meant to cause her pain. She pulled her lip into her mouth and tasted the fresh blood there. Mason took her hand and led her down the aisle while everyone applauded and congratulated them.
They took their pictures and were ushered to the limo so that they could get to the reception hall. Once the door was closed, Mason pushed a button that made the partition separating them from the driver rise. Jane watched the glass move higher with dread filling her.
When Mason was sure they were alone and would not be overheard he turned on her. Her hands flew up to clutch his hands that were tight around her throat.
“What the hell was that?” he spat out.
He was squeezing too tightly for her to respond. Her eyes bugged out as she sat there, her hands on his hands but not fighting, and waited for him to remove his hands. He let her go and sat back.
“I didn’t hear him. Sorry,” she said gasping for air.
Mason stared as her, fury in his eyes. “Fuck!” he screamed. He reached across the seat and grabbed her bag. Tossing it to her he said, “You’re going to bruise.”
There was no concern in his voice. No worry or even regret. He no longer regretted the things he did to her. Only if he left a visible mark that might be seem by anyone.
Jane opened the bag and removed a mirror, her foundation and sponge. The limo stopped outside of the reception hall. Mason told the driver to give them a minute. He took the mirror and help it up as Jane blended the makeup on her neck to cover the brusies that were already starting to form.
“You bruise too damn easy,” he said rolling his eyes.
“Sorry,” Jane said. She didn’t know why she was apologizing. It seemed that when Mason stopped being sorry for hitting her or grabbing her too roughly that it left marks, she started being sorry for making him do it. They were some pair.
When she had successfully covered the fresh marks, she packed everything up and put the bag down. Mason opened the door and stepped out. He held his hand out for her to take and helped her out of the limo.
They walked into the reception hall hand in hand, both wearing large grins, Jane’s forced and Mason’s more natural, as they were announced and their friends and family stood and applauded. She had always wondered how he could smile as if he didn’t have a care in the world. It was as if he had not just nearly chocked her death in the back of a limo. Instead, he looked like a man who had just married the love of his life.
Jane wished that she could wear two faces like he did. She was sure that she did not pull off the happy newly wed as well as he did.
“I always wonder why no one tried to talk me out of it,” Jenna said. “Why didn’t anyone stand up and object when the minister gave them a chance? Then again I know why. I had gotten so good at pretending that everything was okay, that everyone believed it.”