Mercedes was so nervous that she jumped at even the slightest noise. Stoney was gone and she was afraid to stay in the house alone. She never thought Laroy would do something as low as raping her. She wondered if he intended to carry out his threat to call in a tip off, if she didn’t give him what he wanted.
She had never meant to hurt anyone and he knew it. It just happened. She was desperate at the time and Laroy was the only one she could confide in. Then he promised her he would take care of it and it was their secret, until now.
Mercedes hadn’t slept in two days. The beating nightmares had returned. She thought back to the time they started, right after her mother re-married. Mama thought Jeff was a good man. They all did. It was Mercedes who found out first hand that he was full of shit.
It was a Saturday, and mama and her older sister, Carlena, had gone shopping. Fourteen-year-old Mercedes was reading a book when her stepfather walked into her room.
“You sweep that floor like I asked you, girl? Jeff asked.
“That’s yes sir to you,” he belted. Mercedes hunched her shoulders and corrected herself.
“Yes sir.” She grinned. He had never told her to address him as Sir.
“You making fun of me?”
“No…sir,” she added.
“Don’t tease me, girl. As a matter of fact, sweep that floor again. There’s still some crumbs on it.”
“That floor is spotless. I’m not gonna sweep it again.”
Jeff hit Mercedes so hard on the ass that it stung and she fell forward on her knees. He hit her repeatedly on her thighs with an extension cord. “Sweep the mother fucking floor correctly,” he spat.
Mercedes picked up the broom and swept the floor until there was no hint of debris. After she was done, Jeff gave the floor a white glove inspection, nodded his approval, and told her to sweep the rest of the floors. With bleeding knees and welted thighs, Mercedes did as instructed. Jeff inspected all the rooms, then told Mercedes to stand against the wall. He licked his lips as he eyed her breasts. She pulled her blouse closed.
“Did I tell you to move, bitch?”
“No sir,” Mercedes said, as she heard her mother’s car pull up. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“Go clean your wounds,” Jeff ordered, as he watched his wife get out of her car.
“Yes, sir,” Mercedes replied.
Jeff beat Mercedes almost every day. She learned to please him by assuming all the household chores, ensuring that everything was done perfectly. Jeff was calm for about three months. Then, he learned she had excellent math skills, so he made her calculate all the bills and expenses. If anything was miscalculated and/or a bill went unpaid, he beat the brakes off Mercedes. He threatened that if she told anyone, her sister, Sasha, would be punished.
Sasha had heard Mercedes crying and saw the bruises on her sister’s body. However, she had no idea what was going on until she saw with her own eyes. Mercedes took the beatings for two years. At sixteen years old, she had become a master at lying to her family, classmates, and teachers. When anyone asked about her bruises, she made up an excuse that she fell or injured herself in some way. People believed her stories because she had become clumsy after her daddy died.
Sasha noticed Mercedes stayed close to mama and their older sister, Carlena. When they left the house, Mercedes retreated to her room or locked herself in the bathroom.
One day, Sasha saw Jeff carefully inspecting the rooms with a glove and checking to see if the laundry was clean and folded. When he saw that everything was up to par, he looked in the bathrooms and gave them the sniff test. Mercedes had been in one of the bathrooms for an hour. Sasha wondered what she could possibly be doing for so long. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her so she hid in the walk-in linen closet and peeked through a crack. Five minutes later, Jeff kneeled down to look under the bathroom door. He bammed on it, demanding Mercedes to come out. As soon as she did, Jeff hit her in all the places she had covered with clothing. He lifted her long skirt and beat her behind with the extension cord until he drew blood, then did the same thing to her arms. When he was done, he instructed her to cover up with her long sleeved blouse.
Sasha was so shocked, she screamed out loud, causing Jeff to look around to see where the noise had come from.
“Come out or I’ll break her neck,” he threatened. Sasha bolted out of the closet. “So, you want to be nosy, huh?” he blurted.
“That’s no sir, to you.”
Mercedes was horrified. She didn’t want her little sister to suffer the same fate as she had. Mercedes would have told her sister about the beatings a long time ago, but she feared it was too much for the young girl who thought the world of Jeff and felt he could do no wrong. They had a good relationship, and Jeff treated Sasha like she was his own flesh and blood. For that reason, Mercedes believed Sasha was in a better position and would never be subjected to any pain.
Today was the day she learned that no one was safe from Jeff’s wrath. Mercedes had always protected Sasha, so she was more than obligated to do so now.
“Please don’t hurt her. She’s just thirteen. I’ll tell her what to do. She won’t be a problem at all.”
“I know she won’t.” He nodded. “I don’t need two of you guys threatening to tell.”
“We won’t,” Mercedes promised, as she grabbed her little sister with trembling fingers and escorted her to her room, not knowing that soon they would be separated from each other.
The buzz of Mercedes’ cell phone interrupted her thoughts about her step-father. Laroy had texted her.
Laroy: I’ll be in touch with you about our next meeting. I need some of your good loving.
Mercedes didn’t bother to text him back. She felt queasy in the pit of her stomach and her head throbbed. She knew she couldn’t go through with what Laroy wanted. Her main concern was winning Stoney over and losing him would kill her. She didn’t have a solid foundation to stand on and she needed to find some way to get peace. She thought of the only other person who could help her. She knew Sasha didn’t want to deal with this but there was no other way to get around it.