Safety’s Wherever You Are

Olivia massaged the tender skin of her cheek with her right hand as her left gripped the steering wheel.

“Fucking asshole.” She muttered, tears threatening to fall.

In one sharp inhale, she took in all the air in the cabin of the truck. After swallowing hard, she forced her tears down; her father didn’t deserve them. Adjusting herself, she sat up, she tightening her grip on the steering wheel; her knuckles bone white.

She thought about calling him, but it was four in the morning. She didn’t doubt whether or not he was awake; if she tried hard enough, she could see him, sitting far to close to his monitor, sporting the blue light blocking glasses his mother insists he wear. If she closed her eyes she could feel his silk like skin and the warmth that radiated from it.

Gripping the wheel, Olivia imagined herself there with him. Him sitting on the edge of the chair, her right behind him, clinging to him as he played the same section of whatever song he was working on that week over and over again until Olivia could hear the music even when it was no longer on. If she wished hard enough she was there with him, dancing around the studio, trying not to focus to much on the way his heart always seemed to match the melody of whatever song he was working on that week. Or the way he held onto her like she was a flotation device in the middle of the ocean.

It was all too much. They were far too young to be so in love; But still Olivia couldn’t stop herself from daydreaming about the two of them sharing a coat closet sized apartment somewhere in the middle of New York City. She’d never admit it, but there were a few times, in biology class, where she’d scribble down vows. Actual vows, that included words like; ‘forever’ and ‘wife’. But again, far too young.

Shaking the thoughts from her mind, Olivia stepped on the gas, wanting to be with him already. Then, pulling up to his house, it hit her like a ton of bricks.

“What the fucking am I doing?” She muttered after parking her truck.

Shutting the engine off, she turned to look at the massive house that was slowly becoming more like home than her own home.

Ever since the first time Carter brought her home, after asking her to be his girlfriend, Olivia became been obsessed. Everyday after school, his mother, Veronica, would greet them with snacks and kiss their heads before heading off to work.

As long as they did their homework, didn’t burn down the house, or harm anyone, Carter’s parents never really cared what they did.

With Carter, Olivia always felt safe. As ridiculous as it sounded, being that safe was pretty scary.

Within the confines of his bedroom, smoke filling the air around them, Olivia never had a care in the world.

She could tell him anything; expect the fact that she was in love with him.

Carter had said it six months into the relationship and she wanted to say it back; more than anything. But whenever she’d opened her mouth, the words always seemed to get lodged in her throat, making it impossible to speak. She tried and tried, but could never speak the words. Thankfully, Carter understood. He told her not to sweat it; that he could see just how much she loved in her actions. But still, not being able to say it bothered her.

“Hey kiddo.”

Startled, Olivia jumped. With her hand over her racing heart, she turned to see Mac, Carter’s father, standing at her window.

“I’m sorry Liv. Didn’t mean to scare ya.” He said, his hands up in surrender.

“Mac, I know it’s late I- I just-“

She huffed, frustrated with her inability to get the words out.

“Don’t sweat it kiddo. You’re just in time for dinner.” He smiled.

Then, after parking next to his truck, Olivia cut the engine off as Carter made his way over to the car.

“I should’ve called.” She blurted out after getting out of her truck.

Carter only smiled as he opened the back door, grabbing her backpack and sketch book. Then, after closing the door, he laced his finger in with hers.

“Don’t sweat it.” He smiled, causing the tension in her body to loosen

After having dinner with Carter’s family, Carter pulled Olivia down to the basement where the home studio was. Sitting at the mixing board, Carter powered on the computer before turning his attention to her. The smile that he once wore fell causing Olivia to frown. She opened her mouth, but before she could get a word out, his hand was on her cheek, the pad of his thumb brushing across the still sensitive skin.

“He hit you.” He said slowly.

Olivia closed her eyes before instinctively pushing her face into his palm. Then, taking a deep breath, she nodded.

“Yeah.” She said just above a whisper.

“Why?” He asked, his anger radiating off of him like heat waves.

Olivia rolled her eyes.

“He was looking for his keys. Apparently I hid them.” She said, a bite in her tone as she remembered the events that took place.

Her father, Mickey, had spent the afternoon with his buddies, drinking, gambling, and carrying on. Then, come night fall, when he got home, Mickey stumbled into the kitchen where he began rummaging through the pantry in search of more alcohol. After checking all of the cabinets, and all of his usual hiding spots, Mickey came up empty handed. So, he grabbed his jacket, planning to go to the store. After zipping the jacket up, he reached for the keys which he usually leaves on the little table by the door but, they seemed to be missing.

“HEY! Where the fuck are my keys!” He shouted looking around.

Just then, Olivia made her way downstairs, stopping at the bottle of the stairs.

“Olivia! Where the fuck are my keys?!” He slurred, swaying back and forth.

“I don’t know. Ive been upstairs.” She said.

Mickey advanced towards her.

“Don’t you fucking lie to me!” He said in a low voice.

“Daddy this is the first time I’m seeing you all day. How would I know-” Her statement was cut short as the back of his hand connected with her cheek.

Her face burned as she stood there frozen. She couldn’t believe it. In all the years she’d been alive, he’d never struck her, EVER.

Even after the fact, in the safety of her boyfriend’s arms, she still couldn’t believe it. Mickey had a bit of a temper. When he’d get mad, he’d throw things, yell at the of his lungs, and even called her out of her name a time or two; But never in all of Olivia’s seventeen years of life has her father struck her, until then.

“I’ll fucking kill him.” Carter vowed, his words as hard as nails.

Olivia pulled her boyfriend into a hug, burying her face in his chest.

“I don’t wanna talk about him anymore.” She said, her arm tightening around him.

Carter sighed, allowing himself to relax as he winded his arms around her.

“Have you eaten yet?” He asked, resting his head onto hers.

“No, not yet.” She mumbled into his chest.

Pulling back from her, Carter looked at her for a moment; Her bright blue eyes shined like diamonds basking in the sunlight. Then, leaning in, he pressed his lips to hers. He kissed her passionately, doing his best to convey all the love that he felt for her. Then, pulling back, he ran a hand up and down her arm, causing goosebumps to rise to the surface of her skin.

“How bout you shower while I go make you something to eat?” He suggested.

Olivia shook her head.

“No. I want you to come with me.” She said a little timidly.

Olivia was never one to cling, but the thought of being away from Carter, even if he was only gonna be upstairs, made Olivia feel lonely. She needed him by her side.

Luckily, he didn’t question the request. Instead he stripped before grabbing two towels and her hand; leading her to his privet bathroom.

After showering, Olivia and Carter headed upstairs where Olivia ate as Carter played her some unreleased music. At some point, Carter’s parents entered the kitchen, his father needing to prep some food for the upcoming week and his mother wanting to keep her husband company as he worked.

Carter and Olivia sat and talked with his parents until Olivia became to tried to keep her eyes open any longer. So, after saying goodbye to his parents, Olivia slipped her hand on Carter’s allowing him to pull her to his room. After climbing into bed, she snuggled up to him, resting her head on his chest. There, in the dark, wrapped up in the warmth of her favorite person in the world, Olivia finally felt safe for the first time in a long time.

“I love you Carter.” She whispered into the darkness.

His arm tightened around her as he held her impossibly closer.

“I love you too.” He mumbled into her hair, his finger running up and down her spine.

And with that, Olivia closed her eyes, allowing the steady beat of his heart to lull her fast asleep.

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