Jennifer stared out the window of her son's fourth floor hospital room; tears blurred her eyes and fell in a steady stream down her face. The guilt she felt was over whelming. How could she have not known what was happening, how could she have been so blind not to see what that....that.....monster was doing? A small gasp rushed past her lips before she could stop it and she clamped a hand over her mouth, looking toward the bed fearfully, but he was still sleeping.
She wiped at the tears streaming down her cheeks and walked the few steps to the bed, reached down and gently brushed a strand of hair off his forehead. Her eyes lingered for just a minute on the bruises that marred his beautiful face before slowly tracing the outline of his body beneath the thin white blanket. What was under that blanket was far worse than the bruises that peppered his neck and face, she knew, she had seen what had been done to him.
A slight tremor went through her as she remembered racing into the emergency room two weeks before and nearly fainting at the sight of Justin's unconscious, bruised and bloodied body. The damage had been extensive, two fractured ribs, a dislocated shoulder, a multitude of cuts and bruises and his back.... oh god she didn't want to think about his back...... Then, her eyes locked on the cast that covered his right arm from his fingertips to his elbow. The doctors didn't think that Justin would ever fully regain the use of his hand. As she sat down in the chair next to the bed she remembered the sadness and heart break on her son's face when the doctors had told him, art was both his passion and his career.
She silently cursed the man she blamed for bringing this all down on them, Craig, Justin's own father. If Craig hadn't done what he did then maybe Justin wouldn't be lying in this hospital bed. Justin had come out to his family the summer he'd turned seventeen. Craig had been horrified; adamantly refusing to believe his son was gay. He'd tried to convince Justin that he was confused, that he was too young to know what he wanted and that this was just a phase he was going through.
Justin had turned the tables on his father, announcing that he had already been with a guy and had liked it, that had been the first and only time that Craig had hit Justin. Craig had glared down at his son, demanding that he give up his disgusting lifestyle, Justin had refused and Craig had kicked him out of the house. Justin moved in with Daphne and her parents and finished his last year of high school. By then Jennifer had divorced Craig.
Before his father had turned his back on their son Justin had been all set to attend Craig's alma mater, Dartmouth, forsaking his long time dream of going to art school. After the blow up, Craig had refused to have anything to do with Justin, including paying for college. Surprisingly, Jennifer's own family had been more tolerant and understanding, her parents had offered to put Justin through art school and two years later Justin had graduated with honors.
Soon after, Justin had gotten a job with Mason Inc. a company that specialized in restoring damaged pieces of art and was soon one of their top artists. It was there that he also met Glen Halbrook, a green eyed; black haired, six foot tall Adonis, five years older than Justin and the junior vice president of the company.
She wasn't sure if she had liked Glen at first, everything about the man seemed too good to be true. From his meticulously groomed hair, to his perfectly manicured nails, down to his highly polished Prada boots. But the man had seemed utterly captivated by Justin, being almost relentless in his pursuit of the blond. Often, Justin would find some small gift of some sort waiting for him at work, a neatly wrapped bundle of ridiculously expensive paint brushes, a dozen red roses in a clear glass vase and once, a Rolex watch. After three weeks of turning down Glen's date requests, Justin finally relented and agreed to go out with him.
That had been the start of an eight month long relationship and Justin had been happy beyond belief, she had gathered up all the misgivings she'd had about the older man and pushed them to the back of her mind, if Justin was happy than that was all that mattered.
Jennifer sighed, looking around the room, several flower arrangements, sent by her colleagues at the real estate agency sat on the small table near the foot of the bed with get well cards attached. Her boss had been very understanding, telling her to take all the time she needed to stay by Justin's side.
Everything had been so good, she had a job that she loved, Molly was going to a great school and Justin had a wonderful career and an incredible man who loved him, everything was a bed of roses...or so she thought.
Then Glen managed to talk the younger man into moving in with him.
It was Molly; Justin's younger sister that noticed the supple changes in her brother first. She had tried voicing her concerns to her mother, but Jennifer, thinking Molly was just going through some weird kind of sibling jealously had brushed them off.
It wasn't until she'd gotten the call from the emergency room that she'd realized how wrong her assumptions had been.
Jennifer closed her eyes, thinking of all the things Molly had said.
Mom, I think something's wrong with Jus.
Why is Jus wearing long sleeves in the middle of summer?
Jus was limping today; I think he hurt his leg.
Glen wouldn't let me see Jus, he said he wasn't home but Jus's car was in the driveway.
At the doctor's encouragement, Justin finally opened up to his mom, telling her little by little all the sordid details of their relationship. She had learned that the man had begun abusing her son soon after Justin had moved in with him. Glen, it turned out, was far more interested in Justin's art skills then in Justin himself and had planned on using those skills to make himself financially independent. When Justin had refused, Glen had resorted to more vile persuasions.
Luckily, she had been able to talk Justin into filing a restraining order against the man and a friend who worked at the court house had come and helped Justin fill out the papers.
Glen had shown up at the hospital in a rage the next day. Shaking the paper in Justin's face he screamed that a little piece of paper meant nothing, Justin was his and nothing or no one was going to change that. It took two male orderlies and a male doctor to physically restrain him until the police got there.
Although the order was firmly in place both Jennifer and Justin knew they hadn't seen the last of Glen Halbrook, and as soon as Justin was released from the hospital they were getting as far away from this town and Glen as they could.