Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong?
by Judith Freudenthal
1997

Nick dropped by Natalie's apartment, knocked on the door and was surprised when she answered it looking like she was heading out for a night on the town.

"Nick, what are you doing here?" Nat asked, a little surprised.

"I thought you might like to watch some videos. It looks like you have other plans."

"I do. Otherwise, I would've taken you up on the offer."

"Have a nice evening."

"Thanks, Nick. You too."

 

Natalie headed down to the lobby where she was to meet Brent for their fourth date. He pulled up in his fiery red Ferrari. She smiled as she spotted him.

 

They had a pleasant dinner in a nice Italian restaurant. Natalie liked how he had nothing to do with law enforcement.

 

The next evening Grace saw the smile on Natalie's face as she entered work.

"Someone had a good night off. Brent again?"

"Yes."

"You have to bring him around here sometime."

"Maybe. He's sweet, thoughtful and totally charming."

"Do you think things will turn serious?"

"They could," Nat said, teasingly.

 

For their seventh date Brent had arranged a special evening. Natalie was growing quite comfortable with him, a feeling she enjoyed.

The evening went perfectly, until he saw her to her door.

"How about inviting me in?"

"I would like to but I have an early night tomorrow."

"We've gone out seven times now and you won't even invite me in? I thought you liked me."

The anger she sensed from Brent immediately set her on edge. "I do like you. I just don't want to rush things. I've been burned a few times already."

"If you treated them like this, no wonder they dumped you."

"I think you should leave. Now."

"I'm not going anywhere." He grabbed her keys, unlocked the door and shoved her inside, following her in.

"After this many dates I deserve at least a nightcap and a good night kiss. Get me a Scotch."

"No. Either leave now or I'll call the police."

Brent slapped her across the face quite hard before shoving her towards the kitchen. "I said I wanted a Scotch."

"Get out!" She headed for the phone as her hand went to her cheek, which stung from the impact.

He grabbed her by the arm, yanked her around to face him and slapped her again. She felt blood trickling down from the corner of her mouth.

He was mighty surprised when he felt her knee slam into a rather delicate area. While he was doubled over she removed herself from his grip, opened her door and shoved him out it with all her might. She deadbolted and chained her door before rubbing the sore spot on her arm.

She entered the bathroom and wiped the blood off the corner of her lower lip, as she examined the two developing bruises, one by her right eye, which would probably turn into a nasty looking shiner and the other one on the corner of her lower lip. Anger flared in her eyes, aimed at both Brent and herself.

She headed for the kitchen, where she pulled a couple of instant cold packs from a cabinet.

She quickly changed clothes and stretched out on her bed. She activated the cold packs before positioning them over her bruises. She flipped channels trying to find something to watch, eventually settling on an old rerun. Once the cold packs lost their chill she tossed them into the garbage and drifted off to sleep.

 

The next afternoon she awoke and headed for the bathroom to get ready for work. She didn't want to see how bad she looked. She had a rather nasty shiner and the bruise on the corner of her mouth didn't look much better.

She got in the shower being careful not to let the water beat on her bruises, as well as being extra gentle when she washed her face.

She tried her best to cover them with makeup, but they were still quite noticeable. She dreaded the many questions she would have to answer from her friends at work.

She heard her doorbell buzz as she was finishing her coffee.

"Who's there?"

"Brent. I'm really sorry about last night. I don't know what happened. If you'll give me another chance, I promise I'll never hit you again."

Natalie opened the door, ready to slam it again if necessary. "You bet you won't ever hit me again. I don't EVER want to see you again. If you ever come near me, I won't be responsible for my actions." She refused to take the bouquet of roses and the box of fine chocolates he offered in appology.

She shut the door and locked it as she slipped into her shoes and blazer.

 

No sooner had Natalie entered her office when she spotted Grace dropping off some files. Grace's jaw hit the floor and her eyes nearly popped out of her head.

"Natalie honey, what happened?"

"Brent did this." Natalie told Grace what happened. "I will not be a victim of domestic abuse. He actually thought that an appology, flowers and chocolate would make me forgive him."

"Ohhh, I'd like to get my hands on him. Good for you, girlfriend!"

"Don't bother, he's not worth the effort."

Nick and Schanke picked that moment to walk in.

"Nat, what happened?" Nick asked, quite concerned.

Natalie told them what happened before adding, "I'd like to press charges." She saw the fury in Nick's eyes and grew concerned.

"Okay. I'll type up what you told me and you can look it over when you stop by the station later," Schanke said.

"I'd like to get this finished as soon as possible."

"We could give you a lift there," Nick said. "Why didn't you call me?"

"I didn't want any more company. I just wanted to go to sleep as I was sore and exhausted."

 

Natalie gave her statement at the precinct while Schanke typed it up. Nick was concerned about her, but had promised her he wouldn't go after Brent in a non legal manner.

 

That morning Natalie went home with Nick, as they were going to watch a video while she had a bowl of soup. As Nick set up the video he heard her.

"I swore that no one would ever abuse me again. And I almost fell into his trap. A couple more dates and I probably would've been hooked."

Nick was stunned by her admission. She noticed.

"When I was little my nana used to abuse me. Sometimes weeks would go by between times. She had me convinced it was my fault, that I deserved it. As I grew up I realized that she was wrong."

"You did the right thing. Both back then and today."

"I know. Thanks for the reinforcement."

"I'll never purposely hurt you."

"I know."

He laid his hand on her arm to reassure her and accidentally chose the spot where her bruise was. She winced, drawing his concern.

"That's where he grabbed me."

He let her start the movie when she was ready, which she did almost immediately. They got comfortable on the couch and enjoyed the movie.

The end.

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