Author's Note: I told you guys I was writing this chapter as you read the last one, and I promise I did. It took me a long time to edit this chapter. I wanted to make sure it was absolutely perfect before I let you guys read it. I'm still not the happiest with it, but I figure there are only so many times I can read and reread and reread again and continue finding mistakes. Anyway, please let me know what you guys think! I really like to know! Thanks!
**PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE**
Chapter Fifteen: ENJOLRAS
"The car is loaded. Eponine, are you ready to leave?" I asked, rounding the large, lush hedge. I expected to see my mother and Eponine sitting and sipping silently-awkwardly-on their glasses. Fear jumped into my throat as I approached the gazebo that was sitting in the middle of several gardens. "Mother?" I asked. "Where is Eponine?"
"She left," my mother said simply, her cool expression never changing. I noted the still full, untouched, glass on the opposite side of the small garden table. "Rather distastefully, I may add."
I glanced around the gardens searching for any sign of her white sun-dress or her mane of chocolate brown curls among the hedges and rose bushes. "I must say, I simply do not understand what you see in her. She comes from an impoverished and unimportant family and she's much…. Different than the girls you should be seeing, Enjolras." She took another sip from her almost empty glass, her expression still never changing.
Shocked, I could only manage to stare at her. She sounded as though she was talking about the garbage that was thrown out rather than any actual human being. "Eponine is genuine, Mother. She is funny, sweet, and she has the biggest heart that I have ever seen." Pride swelled through my chest describing her. I was proud of the woman that she was, and I was proud to have her in my life. "She cares about me, actually cares about me, and I care about her."
"You should have married Charlotte." She said haughtily. "Does Eponine know about Charlotte?" Her know-it-all tone pricked my skin with each word that came out of her mouth. She'd always been able to grind my last nerve. "She was a suitable woman for you, Enjolras. Her family has money. She went to prep school and finishing school. She's attended galas and balls; she would have given you beautiful, well-behaved children ready for high society and carrying the honor of our family name. YOu would have been passing our legacy onto the proper generation."
She looked at me, coldly. "What will Eponine give you? A dirty little brat that steals every penny that this family has? Eponine is a leach, Enjolras. I do not condone this marriage or this pregnancy. Take care of it."
Despite my proper upbringing and being told to never disrespect my elders, I couldn't help but scoff at her. "I guess it's a shame that its not up to you, huh? I love having Eponine in my life and she and our baby are the best thing to come into my life."
"I mean it, Enjolras. I do not want the heir to our family name being raised by a wild-haired beggar. Knowing her family, can you even be sure that this baby is yours? Don't you see, that baby gives her a tie to this family? It would not surprise me in the least if she was just telling you the baby was yours to reap the benefits this family could bestow on her."
"You're wrong, mother." I said defensively. "Eponine is not like that."
"This is precisely the kind of thing her family is known for. I am serious, Enjolras. If you want to let this woman into your life, you won't see any of this family's money. Not a single franc, do you understand?" Her voice was dead serious and she stared at me dangerously. "You are forcing my hand Enjolras. Either you deal with this snake in the grass, or I will. Have you no idea the shame this union will bring to this family?"
"It's a good thing, I don't want- or need- your money, Mother. Eponine will stay in life, because that is precisely where I want her. I will follow Eponine's example and find my own way home. If you are going to make me choose between my upbringing and my inheritance and my family, you will never win." I turned and headed for the road, making sure to step in her award winning flower-beds, and prepared for the long walk back into the city.
I curled up on the small, aging couch in the living area of the flat. The long walk from Enjolras' family home had left my muscles sore. I could feel my pulse throughout my whole body, as though every single bone had its own little heartbeat. I had a blanket around me and as I stared at the wall, I couldn't help but let the tears run down my cheeks in salty little rivers.
I blamed the tears on the hormones. The things that she said would never have gotten to me like this before I got pregnant. Even as the thought crossed my mind, I knew I was trying to convince myself. I snuggled closer to the blanket and began to think of all the horrible things I'd heard and seen in my life. Thinking about it now, I realized that it was only a matter of time before I snapped, pregnancy or not.
"Eponine!" The harsh voice of my father echoed in the large empty room. Customers had stopped coming through the front door and the wine had dried up months ago. The silk caps and the pretty porcelain dolls had vanished years before, sold to keep warm scraps on teh table. The money was nonexistent, and my mother and father had hardened years ago. "Where are you girl?!"
He yelled, his booming voice sending a chill up my spine. I was still small enough to hide in the small space under the stairs. I pulled my legs tighter to my chest, and tried desperately to control my breathing and the tears streaking through the dirt on my skin. I knew that he was drunk and the alcohol only added to his anger, only reminded him of the life we had once lived.
We had turned to petty crime when the money stopped flowing, and each week he expected everyone to pull their own weight. When we were short, it only brought about his wrath. I knew he was looking for me because I had been short yet again.
"Eponine," he said, his voice harsh. "You're making this worse for yourself by hiding. Come on out, Girl." I held my breath as I heard his heavy footsteps approach the stairs. He stopped, and I hoped that he hadn't found me. The hope died as I felt his cold fingers grip my arm; he dragged me from my hiding place.
He eyed me dangerously. "Found you." His breath reeked of bad booze. "You were short again, Eponine." He squeezed my arm painfully, no doubt leaving bruises where his fingers dug into flesh. Before I could open my mouth he shoved me down hard. I grunted in pain as I hit the hardwood floor. He brought his hand up quickly, and before I could react, struck me across the face.
I cried out, bringing my hand up instinctively to cover my now burning cheek. "I'm sorry!" I gasped out between tears. "Please don't!" The first slap, no matter how many first there are, was always the worst. Shock and terror flow through the entire body. Then the second, the sting of flesh hitting flesh as the burn from the first spreads hot and fast like a wildfire. The following blows blur together, a mesh of anguish and white hot pain. I choked out a sob as he dragged me off the floor by my hair. My scalp burned as I braced myself for another slap. I knew that begging him to stop would only provoke him more. My pleas always fell on deaf ears; every dismal syllable that fell from my lips only encouraged his fists. I found that it didn't last as long when I didn't try to fight back. When I stayed as silent as possible and didn't resist what was happening to me, he'd eventually get bored of smacking me around, and he would stumble off with his cronies in his drunken stupor.
I choked out a sob as he dragged me off the floor by my hair. My scalp burned as I braced myself for another slap. I knew that begging him to stop would only provoke him more. My pleas always fell on deaf ears; every dismal syllable that fell from my lips only encouraged his fists. I found that it didn't last as long when I didn't try to fight back. When I stayed as silent as possible and didn't resist what was happening to me, he'd eventually get bored of smacking me around, and he would stumble off with his cronies in his drunken stupor.
The key turning in the lock brought me back to reality. "Eponine?" His voice filled the room even before he stepped inside. He was more than halfway into the living area when the door clicked closed behind him. I glanced up at him from under my eyelashes, but seeing his face made the tears prick at my already burning eyes; I quickly looked back at my hands, carefully studying each line on my palms and hoping to keep the tears at bay.
"Eponine?" He asked, his voice soft. I felt his eyes on me, and as he studied my face I felt the tears begin to slip down my cheeks again. He reached out to lift my face to meet his gaze, and I had to fight the urge to flinch away from him. My eyes met his. "You've been crying." HIs voice was soft, barely audible.
"The things she said," I murmured, finding it hard to meet his gaze as he swiped his thumb over my cheek to wipe away my tears gently. "She was so cruel, Enj. But she was right. I'm not good enough for you. And this baby is only going to destroy your life."
"She wasn't right about anything Eponine." He said, his voice a little louder this time. "What she said doesn't matter." He forced me to look at him again. "I want you in my life, Ep. I want our baby in my life. I love you Eponine."
Well? What do you think? Let me know! The next chapter is on its way!