Author's Note: Oh my gosh, I am so sorry about how long it took me to update! I went on a trip out of the country, and I had absolutely no internet access on this laptop to post up the next chapter. I also didn't have much time to write, but I did manage to write two chapters. I'm pretty happy with both chapters, but you guys let me know how you feel about it too! Again, I'm so sorry! Hope you enjoy though! (:

Emily clasped her hands together in her lap, hard. She was sweating like crazy and she was frightened out of her mind. Out of the corner of her eye, she looked to her left; Ryan was glaring at her. His attorney was talking to him about the trial ahead, but he was looking right at her with his cruel, brown eyes. She looked back down in front of her. How she wished Tristan was here with her; only Steve had come to support her. But Tristan hadn't, and that really broke her heart. She knew he still didn't believe her, he still wouldn't listen to her, but the one thing he did know was how scared she was of Ryan. She thought that would at least give him a reason to be here for her. He was probably still furious with her for even accusing Ryan in the first place. But really, he had no right to be mad at her. After everything she went through, the rape itself, the choking, the head smashing, he still chose to take Ryan's side over hers. It really made her wonder if Tristan really did love her or if it was all just an act.

She pushed Tristan out of her head, focusing her mind on the task at hand. In less than ten minutes, Judge Ryder would walk through the door and begin the trial. She had spent the last few weeks entirely on this one case, getting herself ready to finally put Ryan in jail. How she wished that the jury would take her side; that they'd see the hell she had gone through, and put her misery to rest. If Ryan was gone, her nerves would be so much more at ease; she wouldn't be so terrified because she'd know that the one guy who had hurt her the most was gone.

Emily was so lost in her thoughts that she almost didn't hear the officer say, "All rise." She got up, and then let herself look over at Ryan. He was staring at her once again. The look in his eyes nearly made her run for the door. His expression was cold and emotionless, but in his eyes, something flashed; something harsh, dark, and terrifying. Emily gasped. She saw he and his attorney sit down and she followed. She looked back ahead to see the judge had already sat down. Ryan's attorney got up and began his piece, soon after, he called Emily to the stand. She took in a deep breath and slowly rose from her seat. She walked towards the judge and her outstretched hand. In it was the Bible and Emily placed her hand on it, swearing that she'd tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She then finally sat down. Her hands were shaking and when the attorney asked her the first question, she didn't know what to say. It was as if she were shell-shocked. But then somehow, she looked out into the stands and saw the one person she didn't think she would see.


He was standing at the very back by the doors, his entire body cast into darkness. But she could see his eyes. They seemed to be telling her, you can do it, Emily. Don't be afraid, you can do it. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes as she felt a sudden strength flow into her, as if his presence made her stronger, gave her courage and bravery she wouldn't have without him. She realized that her hands were no longer shaking as she looked at the attorney and asked him to repeat what he said. He asked her when it happened, and she began her story. She told them everything. She began at the party and explained how he had raped her, what he had said about her and Sasha. She said how she hadn't talked to Sasha since. Not because she blamed her, but because Sasha reminded her too much of that night. Then, she told them about her fear of men, of going outside, of walking down the street. She told them how she had lived for the past five years, always cowering away in terror. She even told them about Tristan, how he made her a bit stronger, and less fearful. She explained the first time she saw Ryan again and the way she had sat outside with Tristan's dog in fear of him. And last, she told them about her last encounter with Ryan. How he had pushed her against the wall and choked her. How he would have killed her if Tristan hadn't finally pulled him away. She looked at the jury as she said all this, because they were the ones who mattered. They were the ones who determined Ryan's fate.

She was called down and it was now Ryan's turn. She called him up to the stand and he began his version of the story. He said he remembered having sex with a girl at a high school party five years ago, but it wasn't Emily. The girl looked nothing like she did. He said that girl had been willing, that he would never force himself on anyone. He said that the girl he had been dancing with-he didn't remember her name-left him for some other guy; she was very drunk and she wouldn't stay with one guy for long. According to him, Emily followed him up the stairs, intrigued by him more than any other guy at the party; she had told him so. He explained how they had had sex together, and he had never heard from her again. Then, he said how his cousin, Tristan, had invited him over to his house. That was the first time that he had ever met Emily. He told them that she was very cold and unwelcoming toward him, staying outside with the dog rather than with her boyfriend and her boyfriend's cousin. The most infuriating thing of all that he said was that the reason that he pushed Emily up against the wall was because she had charged at him and it was only in self-defence. She began pounding his head with the TV remote she had picked up and raking her nails across his face so he shoved her against the wall to stop her. When she wouldn't, he went a little crazy and put his hands on her throat and that's when she finally seized what she was doing; but he didn't choke her. He didn't apply enough pressure to hurt her, just to scare her.

Emily stared at Ryan. How could he say such an appalling lie? Not one word that he said was the truth. Not one. He got up from the stand and confidently strode down toward his seat. He didn't spare her a glance. Judge Ryder got up and left and the jury then got up to talk. They quietly left the room, leaving Emily to panic over which side they'd pick. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder and turned around. Tristan was sitting beside Steve behind her.

"Hi," he said, softly.

"Hi," Emily replied, shakily and sadly. His hand slid down her arm and reached her hand. He intertwined their fingers. She looked down at their hands and realized for the first time how much she had missed him.

"I'm sorry I made you think I wouldn't come. I'm sorry about everything," Tristan exclaimed, "I'm sorry you had to go through that. It must have been hard to listen to Ryan lie."

Emily's eyes widened, "Y-you believe me?"

Tristan looked at her beautiful, green eyes and mentally slapped himself for causing her this pain, "Yes, I do. I'm so sorry I didn't realize it sooner." She made a noise at the back of her throat and launched herself at him, locking her arms around his neck. He wrapped his strong arms around her tiny frame, realizing she was shaking. He soothingly rubbed her back.

"Hey," Tristan said, "its okay. Everything's going to be okay." She sat like that for a few minutes, her body twisted around, her arms around Tristan. It was the most safe she had felt in a long time. She then heard the door bang open. The twelve random people who had been chosen to be the jury walked in. Emily's heart felt like it would be ripped out of her chest, it was beating so hard. Judge Ryder walked in again and sat down.

"What verdict has the jury come to?" She asked in her strong, booming voice. One woman, a small, delicate woman with hair as dark as midnight got up from her seat. Emily clasped and unclasped her sweaty hands and held her breath. The woman unravelled the paper in her hands.

"We, the jury, find the accused," she read, "not guilty."

Emily stared at the girl. She stared and stared and stared until she finally looked over and spared her an apologetic glance. Her stomach had fallen to her knees and she felt as if her heart had been cut open brutally. Her eyes reluctantly moved to Ryan. He was shaking hands with his attorney. When he realized she was looking at him, he looked at her, smiling smugly. Her brain had gone foggy but he was mouthing something at her. She had to repeat it to herself a couple times before she finally figured it out, "Screw you, bitch." If she hadn't been sitting down, she would have fainted. She sat there as she felt, rather than heard or saw, everyone leave. Then all of a sudden, Tristan was in front of her and she was back in his arms. But even that didn't give her the comfort it should've given her. She had told them everything, everything, no matter how hard it was to say, how ashamed she had felt, and he had told them a lie. He had told them a lie and they had believed it. She had tried her hardest to get Ryan into jail, nearly killed herself along the way.

And she had failed.

Emily was incapable of doing anything after the trial. Tristan had to pick her up and carry her inside his house. He walked up the stairs to his bedroom and placed her gingerly on his bed. He took out an old pair of sweatpants and a white t-shirt for her to change into but it seemed as if she couldn't hear him. Knowing that she wouldn't want him to see her half-naked, he took the blanket and threw it on top of her. Without the blanket falling off, he began taking off her skirt, her blouse, and her jacket. He took his white t-shirt, and pulled it down on Emily's outstretched hands. He then pulled it down over her body, her small body that hadn't stopped shaking since the moment Ryan had been set free. He put his sweatpants on for her too. He sat down on the bed beside her, absently moving a lock of hair off her face.

"Emily," Tristan said, "how are you feeling?" She said nothing, but emitted a soft whimper from under the covers. He moved down to lie beside her, laying her head on his chest and wrapping his arm around her. He pulled her close to him, kissing the top of her head. His heart broke for her. After everything she had been through, including everything he, himself, had put her through, she didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve to lose that trial against Ryan. Now that he was sure that Ryan was her rapist, he was enraged at him. For raping her, for hurting her, and for being set free. And most of all, for being his cousin. He never thought anyone in his family would do such a thing. He didn't think anyone even knew that Ryan had done it either, considering Tristan himself didn't know. He had called his mom the previous week and told her what had happened and what Ryan had done. She had hung up on him, not believing what he was saying, much like what he had done to Emily. He looked down at her beautiful face, now asleep. The tear marks were still on her face and he wiped them away gently with his thumb. He knew that he had caused her to cry too, many times. He wanted to shoot himself when he thought about everything that had happened to Emily. Then and there, he made a decision. A decision he would vow to keep all his life because he knew then that Emily was the girl of his dreams, the girl he wanted to have beside him when he finally crossed over to the other side, the girl he wanted to marry and love and adore and cherish and care for. His decision?

He would never let anyone or anything, including himself, hurt her again.

"Sweetheart?" A voice called out to her. "Emily." She groaned and turned over in bed, not wanting to talk to anyone.

"Emily, you've got to get up sometime. You haven't eaten or drank anything in three days. You're going to get sick," Tristan warned her. Once again, she said nothing. It was true, she hadn't gotten out of Tristan's bed for the past three days except to go to the bathroom. She hadn't come downstairs so Tristan had brought everything for her upstairs. He had tried to feed her numerous times but she wouldn't eat. She didn't want to eat. She wanted to just shrivel up like a prune and die.

"Look, Em, I know you're upset but you can't go on like this. It's not good for you," Tristan said, and then when Emily wouldn't turn around and talk to him, he added, "Are you going to keep showing me your backside cause I like what's in the front too, you know."

Emily didn't smile. He sighed. She felt Tristan get up from the bed, and she thought he had left, but then his face popped up in front of hers.

"You haven't been sleeping either, have you?" He asked softly. She didn't look at him and she didn't answer either. He cursed under his breath. He took her hand and brought it up to his lips, pressing a soft kiss into her palm. "Emily, I know you're upset, but it's over. It's done, there's nothing more we can do, and I'm sorry about that. But you can't keep going on like this, you can't do this to yourself. Just try to forget about it."

Something flared inside Emily and her green eyes shot toward his blue ones. "Forget?" She said, speaking for the first time in three days, her voice hoarse. "Forget? How the hell am I supposed to just forget, Tristan?"

"Alright, look, maybe I shouldn't have—"

"Obviously you shouldn't have said that! God, Tristan, what goes through that blockhead of yours?" Emily threw the covers aside and got up from the bed. Swaying unsteadily, she put a hand forward to catch herself but there was nothing there. She began to tip forward but then a strong arm caught her around the waist.

"Emily, calm down, you'll hurt yourself," Tristan cautioned.

"Let go of me!" She screamed, but he wouldn't loosen his grip. "Tristan, damn it, let go of me!"

"You're only going to fall and hurt yourself!" He whispered in her ear. She tried to fight him, she tried to pry his hands away but he was too strong. She collapsed in his arms, her energy spent, the tears she hadn't let fall three days ago finally flowing free down her face. He twirled her around and then held her tight against him. She wound an arm around his neck but the other grabbed his shirt and brought him closer to her. Her sobs were heart-wrenching sobs. They were the kind of sobs that girls hid, masking them with girlish, hold-me-I'm-tearing-up cries. But Emily's sobs were something else. They came with no regret, no shame, only sorrow and disappointment. He felt his own tears on the top of her head, his only wish for her to not feel like this, to not be miserable and unhappy. He held her like that for the longest time, until her sobs finally quieted down and only a small sniffle came out of her. After a while, she pushed away from him, staring at him with wet eyes.

"I want to go to work," She said to him.

"You don't have to, it's not mandatory right now," He assured her.

"No, I want to."

"But you're not well."

"I'm perfectly fine. I want to go, please."

"Just wait another day or two, Em—"

"No, Tristan! Goddammit, I want to go now, do you hear me? I want to go now!" She yelled at him, jumping off of him and looking at him with accusing, heartbroken eyes.

"Alright, alright, whatever you want, Emily. Whatever you want. Just eat something, eat something and I'll take you myself," He offered.

She continued to stare at him until her body finally relaxed and she whispered a hushed, "thank you."

After she grudgingly ate two muffins and some milk, Tristan drove her to her apartment. He took her up and helped her get herself and everything she needed ready. With an arm around her waist, he walked her to the car. He finally drove her to the firm.
"Do you want me to come up with you?"

Emily managed a small, wavering smile and replied, "No, I'll be okay. Thanks." She opened the door and put one foot out when she turned around and kissed Tristan on the cheek. He used this to his own advantage and took her lips into his possession.

"Be careful," He whispered against her lips, "and eat something." She got out of the car without another word, and walked up to the building. She turned around and waved at him and he smiled, driving away. She took the elevator up to the firm, and as soon as the door closed behind her, Steve was on her, like bees to honey.

"Emily, are you okay? How are you feeling?"

"Steve, I'm fine," She replied, but he still followed her into her office.

"I'm so sorry about what happened—"

"Steve, please, I'm fine. I'd rather not talk about it, if it's alright with you." She looked at him for the first time and he gasped, although he tried to hide it. Confused, she strode towards the mirror in the room. She gasped when she saw herself too. There were dark circles on her eyes, and she looked so tired. Without turning around, she said: "I-I, um, haven't been sleeping well the past few days. Well, I actually haven't been sleeping at all." Steve moved towards her and hugged her. She had forgotten how much she loved Steve. He was her best friend, after all.

"I'm sorry," He said again to her. She hugged him tighter.

"Now go," She said, "stop bothering me." He grinned at her and walked out. She sighed and sank down into her chair, as if she had no strength left to move.

Once she was done work, Emily decided to walk through the park on her way home, the park where she had met Tristan. The night was cold, colder than it had ever been before. Emily wrapped her jacket tighter around herself and picked up her pace, although she was exhausted out of her mind. The doorman smiled and opened the door for her. Once in the elevator, she pushed button number seven and inhaled a deep breath. Until the door opened on the seventh floor, she hadn't realized that she had been holding her breath the entire time. She slowly exhaled and walked to her door. She opened it and threw her bag onto the floor, taking her jacket and scarf off. She kicked off her high heels and moved towards her bedroom, taking off her clothes as she walked. She changed into Tristan's shirt again, feeling safe and comforted and putting on a pair of her own sweats. Emily then strode towards the kitchen, not noticing the dark outline of a person hiding behind the wall. She opened the refrigerator, and that's when he spoke.

"Didn't think you could get rid of me that easily did you?" Ryan sneered. Emily squeezed her eyes, not willing herself to believe that Ryan was in her house, standing right behind her.

"You really should have kept your mouth shut, you whore." Then, with all the force in his body, he smashed the pan in his hand across Emily's skull, throwing her against the kitchen wall.

That's when her entire world went black.