Kimberlyn's heart was pounding. Her palms were sweaty, and mascara was running down her cheeks. She was sitting on her parents' couch in the living room, which had temporarily become her bed. She knew he couldn't see her, or touch her, or hurt her anymore, but she was still scared to death. Scared of the very sound of his voice, but she was strong. Her voice unwavering and calm said, "No, I'm not coming back. You've hurt me for the last time." she took in many deep breaths as he continued to yell into the phone, saying ridiculous things about how she was such a bad person for leaving him, and then back peddling that by begging her to come home. He'd yell for one minute and cry and beg the next. She knew it would be that way before she even left, and she didn't care for a change.

"Just come home." he said, "Things will be different if you'll just come back. I swear to you Kimby! I swear." He erupted into a fit of tears, and fresh ones appeared on Kimberlyn's cheeks too.

"No. I won't. I can't. It's over. I'll be by on Saturday to pick up my stuff. Make sure you're not at home." She was crying, and she was so afraid, but she knew she had to sound firm, or she'd never be able to get out. Her whole attitude had to change, she had to become cold and not let him in again. She wasn't going to let him change her mind. After she said this his whole disposition changed.

"Fine then bitch, you better leave my fucking keys, and get all your shit the first time because I don't want your girly crap in my house. " He was no longer a lovesick boyfriend crying for his lost love, he became a tyrant once more, in seconds he could go from one extreme to the other. Kimberlyn wasn't going to play his game. She wasn't going to let his name-calling get her riled up. That's what he wanted, and she wasn't going to give it to him.

"Trust me, I don't want them. I'll be there around 1:00. Don't try anything stupid; I just want to get this over with. After this I don't want to hear from you again." She wondered if he'd believe her, she'd said it so many times before, and every time she meant it. She just somehow kept getting sucked back in. She wasn't sure if she could trust herself, but she had to try again.

"Whatever slut." He hung up. He loved to hang up first, and unexpectedly. She supposed he thought it gave him some sort of upper hand, like he had control over when the conversation was going to end. It really just made him a jerk, but of course he would have never believed that.

When he hung up Kimberlyn turned off her phone, knowing he'd call back about five minutes later. She was right, when she went to turn it back on again a few hours later she had three new voicemails from him, all weeping, telling her how sorry he was, and then how she ought to be ashamed of herself. Kimberlyn felt so many things. She had been so hurt, so mistreated, so used. She didn't know how she felt anymore; she just knew that she needed to be out. A part of her didn't want to be alone, and thought she should go back, and another part of her told that part to shut up and hated him… that part of her hated him a lot. Kimberlyn never had been a hateful person either. She'd never really hated anyone before in her life. She wasn't sure whether or not she hated herself as well. After all, she'd been the one to let herself get into the situation, but he didn't have to take advantage of her… What could she have done differently? Why had he changed? Everything happened so quickly… She wasn't sure what had even occurred. Suddenly she had gone from a happy relationship, to absolute Hell in a matter of six months. What happened? Why?

He was a conquest, just like everyone else. Kimberlyn had never expected it to go anywhere. She certainly never expected to fall in love with him. She was just an eighteen-year-old who wanted one last fling in her hometown before setting off for college. She wasn't looking for a relationship; she just wanted to see if she could show him that not all girls are alike. Kimberlyn had wanted to show him that there are good people out there who aren't just out to get him. She wanted to fix him, because she knew he was broken. She wanted to run away, and she wanted him to chase her.

His name was Tim. Kimberlyn met Tim through mutual friends, sort of. She, along with Lolita and Tiffany, had gone to a local rock show held in some school gym one day. A couple of Lolita's friends were in a band together, and everyone pretty much knew everyone else there. Tim had been in one of the bands that played that day (it was held in the middle of the afternoon) and the two had locked eyes during the set. Tim played bass guitar in Until Further Notice, a punk rock band with some indie thrown in for good measure. Apparently Tim knew a few of Lolita's friends, and they all went out to dinner that night. After talking to Tim for a while Kimberlyn realized that she had known of him for quite some time by his reputation (for being a "ladies man" no less) and they found out they had mutual friends as well as enemies, since they had both grown up in the same town they ended up having a lot in common. Go figure. Kimberlyn and Tim both wondered why they hadn't at least bumped into each other before. Eventually he confessed to her that he did remember seeing her once, when she was with her previous boyfriend, Brian. He had seen them at a grocery store together, and he told Kimberlyn that he wondered what she was doing with him. "You were too hot for that guy" he'd said.

On their first date Kimberlyn decided she didn't like him. Their personal styles clashed too much, so did their personalities. Tim was the punk rock type; Kimberlyn was the preppy type. He was playing in a band on a stage while she was arranging flowers and picking out which grosgrain ribbon she ought to wear with her favorite Ralph Lauren sweater. Kimberlyn knew that supposedly opposites attract and all, but she wasn't sure about Tim. He had… issues. She could tell from the beginning, that he was a little odd. The way he dressed, his habits, the way he carried himself. She figured that he was just unique and was doing his own thing. She didn't know he was just flat out insane.

She also didn't like that he felt that all women were vipers; every woman who had ever been in his life had hurt him. They had always let him down; they had always done one thing or another to break his heart. She didn't like that he thought all girls were the same, because she had always considered herself a really great girl, the kind any guy would be proud to have on his arm.

The night of their first date Tim took Kimberlyn home and stood on her doorstep expecting her to kiss him. She didn't, "because I don't do that". She knew that if she didn't kiss him he would call her, and secretly she wanted him to call, although she wasn't about to admit that to herself at the time. She also asked him to call her, under the pretense of, "I want to know you got home alright." That had been her trick for years. It worked every time. Especially since Tim lived forty-five minutes away and in heavy Nashville traffic she knew that she had every reason to be concerned. He called her once he got home, just like she'd predicted, and he wanted to go on a second date with her. He admitted to Kimberlyn later that he didn't like her on their first date either, and that he wanted to give her a second chance too. "Plus you were hot. That was mostly why."

"What I was thinking" Kimberlyn asked herself, "and why did I decide to spend a year of my life on him? If first impressions are correct, I should have done the smart thing and never spoken another word to him again!" But Kimberlyn knew why. She wanted to give him another chance, and wanted so badly to prove him wrong. She was bored and wanted a project. She just wanted to have a fling before going to college. She never had any idea how far it would go.

It started out simple enough. Kimberlyn didn't want to have a boyfriend; boyfriends take up too much time and complicate things. She still had her ACT to take and was enrolling in SCAD for the winter semester. She wasn't even going to be in Tennessee for much longer. She just wanted to have a quick summer to fall fling, and then break it off right before leaving for school. She told Tim that in the very beginning, and had every reason to think it would be a success. It had worked for both her spring to summer flings. She dated Phillip from February to mid April, and then broke it off with him when he went to work on his uncle's ranch. Then from the end of April until June she dated David, and ended things with him when he got a life-guarding job at a summer camp a few towns over. Things had been simple, and even pleasant, she still talked to them both occasionally.

She told herself she wasn't going to fall for him, and did an okay job for a while; unfortunately she couldn't say the same for him. Eventually he started wanting to see her nearly every day, and they did. They grew close quite quickly after spending so much time together, and at first he was really great. He was a little weird, but he started trusting Kimberlyn finally and she thought that maybe her project was working, that maybe he'd realize women weren't all bad and that she could leave him with a smile on his face, and no strings attached, nothing but happy memories. Unfortunately Kimberlyn forgot that life doesn't work the way it does in the movies, and that people have feelings that get out of control. He got sweeter and sweeter, more and more romantic. She was starting to get comfortable with him, and they became good friends. A month and a half of this went by and he confessed he was in love with her. That was the first time Kimberlyn saw him cry. He cried a lot during their relationship. That was his ace up his sleeve, that's how he got what he wanted, because Kimberlyn couldn't stand to see anyone cry.

She didn't love him at first, even though she told him she did. Kimberlyn loved playing house with Tim. It became a weekend routine. For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the two of them were husband and wife. Eventually she grew to love him, or the person she thought he was. Playing house added to the attraction considerably. It was a fantasy Kimberlyn indulged herself in so completely that she actually blew off my ACT, and ended up not going to college when she planned. She was so silly and too in love to care at the time. Kimberlyn was so stupid over him that nothing else mattered to her. Only Tim, she even forgot about herself. Shortly after they began playing house they got serious. The twosome started talking about a future together. Kimberlyn going to college closer to home, moving in with Tim, buying a place together, getting married, having kids, and then growing old with each other. She was in a state of bliss. The world was her slice of tiramisu! Or so she thought, she had yet to read the fine print on the bottom of Tim's label. There was a lot she'd missed in the whole, "getting to know you" stage. It wasn't until much later in our relationship that Tim decided to divulge information that Kimberlyn should have been privy to much earlier. After only a few months he became terribly controlling and jealous. He started trying to tell her that she couldn't speak to some of her friends anymore, and telling her what to wear. He stopped taking her out altogether, because he didn't want anyone to look at her. "I don't want anyone to see how hot you are and think about you naked", he had said.

"Guys don't look at me and instantly think about what I'd look like naked. Give me a break." She'd say, as tossing her hair and rolling her eyes, while searching for a less revealing top to wear.

"I do." And then that would be the end of the conversation. With him there was no discussion, it was his way or no way at all.