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Against Her Will

Late one night, a hideous attack ruins a young woman’s life. Donna is broken, both mentally and physically, and has a long road of recovery ahead. Just when she’s overcome the worst, she makes a devastating discovery that changes everything, and she finds herself in danger once again. Can she overcome her fears and uncover the truth to set her free, or is she destined for a life of pain and misery?

Age Rating: 18+

 

Against Her Will by Peter Martin is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

1

Summary

Late one night, a hideous attack ruins a young woman’s life. Donna is broken, both mentally and physically, and has a long road of recovery ahead. Just when she’s overcome the worst, she makes a devastating discovery that changes everything, and she finds herself in danger once again. Can she overcome her fears and uncover the truth to set her free, or is she destined for a life of pain and misery?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault)

Original Author: Peter Martin

A hand touched Donna’s arm as she walked past. She shuddered slightly, then heard a familiar, posh, almost public school voice calling her name.

David Wallace, her boss. Her eyes closed for a second, and she muttered oh no under her breath.

“Got a minute?” he asked, raising his eyebrows expectantly.

“Sure David—is there a problem?”

Her heart sank as she glanced up at the clock behind him. It was already ten past five. Why did he always do this just as she was about to leave?

“Yeah—it’s this customer report of yours. We need to have a chat about the analysis you’ve made. One or two of the trends you’ve shown seem a little unusual, to say the least.”

“OK, let me get my notes,” she said with a frown.

“Bring them to my office, would you?”

Gritting her teeth, she realized what this would mean. A dissection of her whole analysis, bit by bit, which, knowing David, would probably tear two weeks’ work to shreds.

She went back to her desk to fetch the necessary paperwork, cursing him for doing this to her yet again.

The realisation of how meticulous he was made her fear the chances of leaving before six o’clock were virtually nil.

Just what she didn’t need when she was supposed to be going out with Blake at seven-thirty to celebrate their forthcoming engagement.

David gave a little smile on her return, making her cringe.

“Pull up a chair, Donna.”

She sat down, paperwork in front of her, and proceeded to try to clarify her analysis.

Every minute detail had to be explained, so determined was he to find out exactly what she’d done.

All the figures had been checked and rechecked, so there couldn’t be a mistake in the analysis—could there? As time passed her nerves began to fray.

Her fingers drummed on his desk, and she almost felt like crying, as David droned on and on, with no apparent conception of how late it was.

The clock on the wall struck six-fifteen. The man wouldn’t shut up. It seemed like he didn’t want to go home.

Which wasn’t surprising, considering he lived on his own and appeared to live and breathe work, expecting everyone else to do the same.

Ever since he’d interviewed her for the Statistical Analyst job, two years ago, she’d noticed his keen interest in her work.

Obviously having seen something beyond her supposed beauty. But now she suspected this interest was more than just work orientated.

To his credit, he knew his subject inside out, but when he found a couple of little errors that changed her analysis completely, she almost died with shock.

How stupid must she have looked right in front of him? God knows what he thought.

Finally he stood up and smiled faintly, much to her relief. “All right Donna, let’s call it a day, shall we? Thanks for staying behind, I really appreciate it.”

“Sorry I messed up.” She gathered up her papers as she rose.

“Think nothing of it. We all make mistakes, don’t we? Even me, believe it or not. Have a good night.”

He gave her a warm smile, then hesitated as if he was about to say something else. But he didn’t.

Nevertheless, she felt slightly uncomfortable, as on occasions she’d caught him gazing at her. If ever he’d asked her out—heaven forbid—she’d die! Thank goodness he didn’t, she thought as she made to leave.

“Donna!” His voice was loud and made her jump and turn round. “Can I give you a lift?”

The color on her face began to change to red again.

“Er…well…”

“It’s on my way home—honestly.” He stared at her with a slight grin on his face.

“No, it’s all right, but thanks anyway.” She quickened her pace, almost running towards the main office door.

“Oh come on, Donna—” he shouted after her, but she didn’t stop. Didn’t dare. Or was she overreacting to his friendly gesture?

Making her way hurriedly down the corridor, she reached the lift, pressed the button, and waited for it to arrive. It seemed to take forever—her heart thumped against her chest, fearing she’d miss her train.

At last the lift arrived. Once she was inside, she drummed her nails on the chrome handrail as the floors ticked away, took out her phone and tried to get in touch with Blake, but couldn’t get through to him. Damn.

Finally the doors slid open, Donna rushed through, still annoyed at herself for being late.

When she got out of the building she was surprised to see how dark it was. Then she heard the sound of someone’s footsteps clattering behind her.

Oh my God, was somebody following her? But when she glanced round there was no one there.

Then walking on, she heard it again. She closed her eyes for a second, and sighed, thinking she was getting paranoid, then quickened her step, intent on getting to the station as quickly as possible.

This was all David’s fault—for not being willing to accept the fact she didn’t want a lift and making her feel on edge. When people got over friendly, she felt uncomfortable and embarrassed.

Why they thought her attractive, she found it hard to work out, even though she’d been told this from an early age. There’d always been remarks about her slender figure and turquoise eyes.

As she walked at a brisk pace, she looked at her watch, wondering if it might be possible to make the six forty-five train back to their flat. That would leave her half an hour to get ready, but it’d be a close run thing.

She crossed the main road, hurrying towards the subway, glad the sound of footsteps seemed to have gone. Hopefully, whoever it was had given up, or maybe she’d imagined it.

Dusk was fast approaching, the streets were deserted and grey. A spot of rain pricked her forehead. She pulled her jacket together and hurried to the mouth of the subway where the muffled words to ‘Let it Be’ rang out.

The entrance looked empty and dim apart from the busker sitting cross-legged on the pavement. His out of tune guitar sounded so bad it made his voice sound good. Donna smiled to herself as her heels clicked on the concrete.

Although walking through this subway made her a little nervous, she was in a hurry. No way did she want to be late for the meal.

Blake would think…she didn’t know what he’d think. Sometimes he had problems dealing with other men liking her, no matter how many times she reassured him.

But the idea he might consider David Wallace a rival was too ridiculous for words.

If only she could contact Blake, it wouldn’t matter. She pressed the keypad on her mobile again, intending to let him know she was running late, but his phone still seemed to be switched off. Shit.

At the end of the subway, she saw a figure standing there, his head covered by a hood. As he coughed, a hand appeared in front of his face.

The lights above him were bright, but Donna didn’t look his way until he suddenly spoke.

“Got the time darling?” His muffled words made her jump.

He sounded young. There was a strange sweet smell close by that made her want to puke and quickly get by.

It was six-forty, leaving her five minutes to get to the station.

“Nearly quarter to seven,” she mumbled, scurrying past.

As she hurried on out of the subway towards Dexford train station, suddenly, out of nowhere, an arm bent and tightened around her neck, and she was dragged into a long narrow alley that stank of stale pee and uncollected garbage.

She started gurgling at once, finding it almost impossible to scream or breathe, when a gloved hand closed around her nose and mouth.

Terror spread through her body as she panicked and struggled to get free. Was this a mugging or something much worse?

Oh my God, don’t hit me, she prayed. Best give him whatever she had, and hope he’d let her go.

He pulled her to one side and into one of the nearby derelict buildings, then yanked her up by her long blond hair. A fist thumped into her stomach, causing her to crumple and gasp in pain.

Wild, large eyes glared at her through a balaclava helmet.

He snarled and gave out a high-pitched chuckle as if he enjoyed frightening her like this.

“Oh no…please leave me…alone. Take whatever you want…but please don’t hurt me,” she begged, pushing her handbag towards him.

She tried to get up but was still in his grasp, his hand gripping her arm so tightly she winced in pain.

“Stuff your bloody money, pretty lady,” he hissed in a strange gruff voice.

Trembling, she pleaded for mercy. Ignoring this, the man smashed his fist into her face.

Warm blood trickled down her nose. She whimpered before he struck her again several times in the ribs, and on the chin. The pain was so excruciating, she could hardly draw breath.

She battled desperately to get up from the filthy debris-filled floor to run. But he was too quick, and caught her by her coat, forcing her back onto the ground.

Soon he was on top of her, kissing her roughly about the face as she tried to avoid his horrible greasy lips.

His gloved hands clutched her breasts hard, making her clench her teeth and whine in agony. He ripped her blouse open. Buttons flew off in all directions.

Donna sobbed, shockwaves of hysteria surged through her. Oh God, if only someone would help her.

This was unbearable, unreal—was he really going to do this to her. Surely not? How she wished Blake were here.

Please…oh sweet Jesus…help me, she thought. She’d rather die than have this happen. How could this monster violate her like this?

In her desperation, she raked his arm with her fingernails, and went to gouge his eyes, but his hand grasped hers, wrenching it back with such force that she wept in agony.

The man laughed hideously at her futile efforts to stop him. He was so strong, and well able to do whatever he wanted to her. She was simply too weak to prevent it. Please God, make him stop.

Suddenly he moved his hand away, towards his own body, and fumbled with the zip of his trousers.

She tried desperately to wriggle free, but he caught hold of her ripped blouse, and slapped her on the face with the back of his hand.

Her nose went numb, and she tasted her own coppery blood. She tried to raise her head, but he pressed his body down hard, almost suffocating her.

As he continued, she closed her eyes, trying to shut out the horror of what was happening to her. Unable to defend herself in any way, she lay there passively, wanting it over as quickly as possible.

But it seemed to go on forever. And the pain deep inside was torture, like some hot blunt instrument splitting her in two.

She felt his balaclava-clad face close to her own, spit from his mouth trickled onto her cheek. There remained a foul pungent sickly smell about him that repulsed her.

Finally, he uttered a great groan of exquisite pleasure, stopped, and giggled. Donna shuddered, lying prostrate on the ground.

He got to his feet, breathing in deeply, and stared down at her. “How does it feel? Bitch! Not so pretty now, are you, eh?” he growled.

Cold eyes stared at her and widened with desire again, making Donna’s heart flutter with dread.

Her mouth flooded with sour saliva and bile came up through her throat.

He began to kick her in the stomach, her legs, face, just about anywhere—and when he’d finished, he looked down at her and gave out a high-pitched laugh that almost sounded like a hyena.

That same vile odour remained on him, and then he was gone.

She remained on the ground, hardly able to move, relief at being alive passed quickly. She needed to cover herself up.

Her whole face began to swell up like a balloon—in fact she hurt all over and found it difficult to breathe. Her private area was deadened by what he’d done.

Dear God—she felt so sick and unclean. Why had this happened to her? If only she could wake up from this horrible dream.

It took some time, but at last she staggered to her feet, wrapping what was left of her clothing tightly around her. Leaning against the wall, unsteadily she stumbled forward out of the building.

When she heard what sounded like a gang of youths approaching, her heart lifted, in the hope they might assist her. They looked across at her, some of them giggling, while others preferred to look the other way.

“Please…help me,” she begged, but in reply they made lewd remarks, before walking past. Weeping, she found their behaviour incredible.

Donna didn’t see the man whose arms she fell into. She glimpsed a grey beard, and a woman with her mouth gaping open.

“Oh my God!” the man exclaimed. “What on earth…?”

“I…I…” she whispered, tears streaming down her blood soaked face.

“Harold—she’s been attacked. Look at her face and clothes. Oh you poor thing. Quickly—call the police and an ambulance!” the woman shouted, covering Donna with her coat.

She placed an arm round her and guided her out to a nearby bench. Donna heard Harold mumble something into his mobile phone.

She shook with ague, her body aching all over. As she glanced up, a crowd of people had gathered, talking, staring as if she was some kind of freak show.

Why did they have to gawk at her in that way? She just wanted them to go away and leave her in peace.

Soon after hearing the sirens, Donna saw the flashing lights. The ambulance stopped close to where she was sitting. Two figures dressed in green uniforms emerged and rushed through the crowd to her.

One bent down and put an arm around her, and introducing herself as Anne, a paramedic, began to talk to her, but Donna couldn’t take in what was being said.

Finally Anne helped Donna up and guided her towards the ambulance, then assisted her to climb inside.

Lying down, Donna was relieved when the doors closed and the vehicle left the scene of the attack. After what only seemed a few minutes, they arrived at Dexford General Hospital.

From there she was taken to her own room, where she was undressed and examined by a female doctor.

After they’d patched her up, they allowed her to wash herself in a shower, which she did over and over again in a valiant attempt to rid herself of the filth all over her.

Once she was in bed and had taken the sedative the doctor had prescribed to relax her, she drifted in and out of sleep.

However, she continued waking intermittently with vivid visions of the man’s evil eyes and the wicked laugh behind his balaclava helmet.

Sometime later she got up and went to the en-suite bathroom, and staring at herself in the mirror, she sobbed at her swollen face and bandaged nose.

This brought it all back to her, and again terror swept over her. That horrible man had made her feel cheap and used. She’d never be the same again, and wanted to die.

Back in her room, resting on top of the bed, she kept her eyes closed, wishing the pain would go away.

The sound of someone entering the room caused her to open her puffed up eyes, to see a plump policewoman with a round face, rosy cheeks and an easy smile, standing before her.

“Hallo Donna.”

Her voice was soft, her large grey eyes widening with concern and compassion.

“I’m Jill Meadows, Dexford police. Sorry to disturb you at a time like this. I know you need to get some rest and it’s late, but I just wondered if you felt up to answering a few questions about what happened to you.”

Donna didn’t answer, she just wanted to be left alone.

“So how are you?” Jill asked.

She burst into tears.

The police woman reached out to touch her hand, but Donna pulled back in a flash.

“Look, I can see you’re upset. You have every right to be. But you’ll be fine, no one can hurt you now. And I promise we’ll be working day and night to find the man who did this to you. But to do that we need your help.

“I realise how difficult this is, but important to know exactly what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind—I believe it could make a huge difference. Could you try to do that for me?”

She didn’t respond.

“Please, Donna. I appreciate you’ve been through a terrifying ordeal, but it’s vital you tell us whatever you can. Come on, try—for me and all the other girls out there who are at risk until he’s caught.”

“I… I can’t talk about it.” She shook her head rigorously, breathing in and out deeply.

“I know you don’t want to, my dear, but if you try really hard you can—believe me. There’s no point in bottling this up inside. Tell me about what he did. Or his next victim might not live to tell the tale. Is that what you want?”

She began to shake violently, biting down hard on her bottom lip. Jill Meadows was right. She had to talk about this, but it was so horrific, so humiliating; she felt too ashamed to say anything.

“How about a drink?” Jill asked finally.

After a few seconds of silence, Donna nodded.

“What do you fancy?”

“Anything. Water…”

Jill poured her a glass of water from the jug on her bedside table. Donna took a small sip, then gave it to Jill to put back on the table.

“You will get over this—but of course it will take time. You’re young and strong, so your injuries will heal quickly.

“But what you’ve experienced can have devastating effects, mentally as well as physically—you’ll need counselling from someone specially trained in rape trauma.”

Donna pulled a face and shook her head.

“I bet a girl like you must have lots of admirers.” Jill seemed to be trying a different approach.

She didn’t even want to think about that.

“You have a boyfriend?”

She nodded timidly.

“Thought so. His name’s Blake, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Hey, that’s a nice name. He’s a bit of a hunk, I noticed.”

“You think so?” Donna mumbled, unable to look Jill directly in the eye.

“Really good looking—shame I’m not ten years younger.”

She gave a slight smile, but this small talk did nothing to calm her down, instead it made her nervous. She felt herself going hot.

“Been going together long?”

“Five years,” she sighed, still without looking at the police woman.

“That’s a long time for someone so young. Were you childhood sweethearts?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“That’s sweet. You’ll be glad to know he’s waiting outside with your mum and dad.”

She creased up, suddenly afraid again. “I don’t want them to know…everything.”

“I realise that, but remember they love you dearly, so they’ll be very sympathetic and understanding. And can give you all the love and support you need right now.”

“But it was degrading and I feel so dirty.”

“There’s no reason for you to feel like that—honestly. You couldn’t have done any more than you did, and in the circumstances, I think you were very brave—”

“We were going out…to celebrate our engagement. Blake must have thought I’d stood him up,” she blurted out, biting down on a fingernail.

“Oh dear—that’s a shame! Well, he knows you didn’t stand him up now. He’s been worried sick—I can’t tell you how relieved he is that you’re still alive, and out of danger.”

“He’ll go spare if he finds out the truth.” She turned away to bury her face in her hands. “Oh God, what have I done to deserve this?” She wept softly.

“Nothing, love. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Listen, I don’t like to keep on at you, but I have to ask you again about what happened.

“Come on now, just take your time, I’ve got all night if need be. Let’s start with when you finished work tonight, shall we?” Jill said, a notebook in her hand ready.

Donna closed her eyes and started to tremble; she didn’t want to do this, but it seemed she had no choice.

It was so demeaning having to reveal all the intimate details, but Jill was so patient and supportive, Donna got through the ordeal. And once she began to open up, she was able to tell Jill everything she could remember.

It came tumbling out. All the unthinkable disgusting things that vile man had done to her. She was distraught at times, but could describe everything in great detail except for his appearance.

“Thank you Donna, it takes a lot of guts to speak about this. I’m very proud of you.” She smiled at her when it was all over.

“Forensics are going through your clothes right now, and we’ve taken samples of what’s under your fingernails and from your vagina. Hopefully, if they can get his DNA, it’ll be on file.

“I’ll arrange for a police artist to come and sit with you in the morning, so we can get an idea of what he looks like. Is that all right, love?”

“I… I didn’t get a good look at him. He wore some sort of mask, a balaclava I think it was; I only saw his piercing eyes. But I… I can’t even tell you what color they were, because it was dark, and I was so frightened.”

“Doesn’t matter—like I said, any of these tiny details might come to you in time. Remember even without a description, it’s possible we might find evidence from the samples we’ve taken. It may not be as difficult as you imagine.”

The very thought of having something of his in her body, something that might grow into…Oh sweet Jesus, hoping to God the morning after pill she’d taken earlier had worked. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about.

“Right then—maybe it’s time I left you in peace. You’ve got more than enough to cope with right now. In the morning I’ll get all this typed up, you can read through it and sign it if you’re happy.

“I’ll speak to you later then, love. I expect you’d like to see your family now. They’ve been waiting for quite a while.”

“What—yes.” She twitched nervously.

How could she face them? They’d want her to tell them about it. And what about Blake? If only she could let him take her in his arms and make all the pain go away.

But she didn’t think that was possible. And neither did she want him or anyone else seeing her smashed up face and body. Yet it seemed she had to.

She nodded.

“OK. Now, if you need me any time, night or day, call this number. It’s my direct line.” Jill gave her a card. Then just before leaving, she hugged Donna, who wanted to cry again.

As she lay there, she began to breathe erratically, panicking over having to face her family. She couldn’t prevent herself from shaking. Oh God, would she ever stop being afraid?

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

2

A short time later, Donna looked up to see the door to her room opening. A stout, jolly-looking black nurse came in first, all smiles, followed by her parents and her soon-to-be fiancé.

She blinked nervously when she saw them, and her heart began to pound. She could hardly bear to look at them.

Her mum was a tall, thin, wiry woman with long, bleached hair and a pale complexion. Her face was heavily made up; eyes clear blue.

She held Donna’s dad’s hand tightly. He was a couple of inches shorter but sturdy, bald, with a black moustache, and wore jeans and a tee shirt. Several heart shaped tattoos covered his arms.

Behind him was Blake, tall and slim, with short black hair, he constantly displayed a shadow of a beard on his face. Tufts of his body hair peeked out of his open-necked white shirt. He was olive skinned and had dark brown eyes.

Donna closed her eyes, not wanting to speak to them.

She heard chairs scraping along the floor as they were brought to the side of her bed.

The atmosphere was tense with emotion, and she sensed her family staring at her battered face.

Everyone was quiet, frightened to say anything, as tears trickled down her cheeks. She opened her eyes at last to the sound of her mother’s voice.

“Oh my poor darling. Just look what that monster’s done to you!”

Donna cringed and wished she could hide her face. Instead she wept uncontrollably.

“Don’t cry love.” Her mum got up from the chair and held out her arms.

Donna started to shake and drew back from her mum, unable to stand any more of this right now.

“They ought to string him up when they catch him,” her dad growled.

Donna’s mum sat reluctantly back down in her chair. “No one’s safe out on their own these days. Makes you wonder what the world’s coming to.”

“I’ll kill the bastard, if I ever catch hold of him,” Blake said angrily.

“Did you get a good look at him, love?” her mum asked.

Donna shook her head, her face creased up in pain.

She glimpsed Blake moving off his chair to sit on the bed. He attempted to put his arm around her, but the very thought of it made her recoil from his touch.

“No, please don’t!”

Blake’s face dropped. Donna didn’t want to talk yet, let alone have any physical contact with him. She wanted him to understand, but wasn’t sure he would.

“Sorry love,” was all he said, before backing off to his seat.

“Donna, don’t get upset, Blake didn’t mean anything.”

“I don’t want to be touched, Mum.”

Finally, she sank back down into her bed, and turned her face away from them.

“Please don’t be like this,” her dad said. “We only want to help, sweetheart.”

“Did he take anything from you?” Blake suddenly asked.

She started to sob again, her tears staining and wetting the pillow.

“Talk to us Donna. Tell us what happened.”

Slowly, she moved her face towards her mum. “I can’t. I just want to forget about it, but every time I close my eyes, I keep seeing him hitting me.”

She tightened her fists and put them defensively in front of her face.

“All right, let her be, love—now’s not the time,” her dad said.

“But she’s our daughter—have you seen what that scum’s done to our beautiful little girl? Her face—” She dabbed her own eyes with a tissue.

Blake looked forlorn. No one spoke for a while, then at last her dad said, “Perhaps we ought to go. We’ll come back tomorrow Donna, when you’re a little better, but ring us any time you like, if you need us.”

She didn’t react to his remarks, but felt their eyes glued on her.

“You staying a little longer, Blake?” Donna’s mum asked, while her dad beckoned his wife to hurry up.

Blake didn’t respond to this, but chose to remain in his seat. Perhaps he wasn’t sure what was expected of him.

“You take care of yourself now,” her dad said.

She didn’t say goodbye to her parents as they left; couldn’t even look at them or at Blake either, who sat there in silence, obviously wondering what he should do next.

After what seemed an eternity, he finally spoke, “You don’t mind if I stay, do you?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“When you didn’t turn up at the flat, I got really scared. I didn’t know what to think. I wondered if you’d changed your mind about me. You have no idea how beautiful you are, and how many other guys fancy you.”

Blake and his ridiculous insecurities again. She wasn’t listening. Why couldn’t he understand what she was going through?

When he took hold of her hand, straight away she pulled it away from him. He frowned.

“You want to know what really happened, Blake? He…he didn’t just attack me…he…” and bit by bit it came out, about all the unspeakable things the foul man had done to her and how sickened she was by the vile actions.

Blake listened, staring at her with shock, and obvious disbelief. His eyes widened, and his mouth tightened with anger.

When she’d finished, he looked down at the ground, shaking his head; then she watched him wring his hands tightly together. She waited for him to say something—but he was silent!

“Maybe now you have some idea why I didn’t want you to touch me.”

With a glazed look in his eyes and through clenched teeth, he said, “You never ought to have stopped late. That Wallace bloke has got a lot to answer for.

“And why didn’t you phone me? I would have picked you up—and then this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Because your bloody phone was switched off.”

“What…” he began, looking puzzled, but she didn’t let him finish.

“What’s the matter? Don’t you believe me?”

“Of course I do. Look, I’m your boyfriend, for Christ’s sake. I love you and I want to help—so please don’t give me a hard time over this.”

“He frightened the shit out of me.”

He might have killed me, she thought. Easy as snapping a twig.

Blake got up and moved towards her again, but she jumped back like a startled rabbit, and held out her hands to stop him.

A sad scowl appeared on his face. “But what he did hasn’t got anything to do with me.”

“Maybe not. You still don’t understand, do you, Blake? Sorry, but I can’t bear you to touch me right now.”

“Donna…you’re not thinking straight.”

“They made me take a pill—so I won’t be pregnant with that maniac’s child.”

His eyes widened again, showing up the creases in his forehead.

“And look at my face. Not quite your beautiful girl any more, am I? Why did he single me out for God’s sake? What did I ever do to him?”

“Nothing, I realise that. He probably did it because he couldn’t have you any other way. But I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll fucking strangle the bastard, if I catch hold of him.”

He balled up a fist and banged it into his other hand.

“Well, how will you do that? I don’t even know what he looks like. I never saw his face. He wore a balaclava helmet so it’s impossible.”

“No it isn’t, Donna. Something about him will have stuck in your memory, for sure. Like how tall he was, his build, if he was black or white. And if he spoke, you might even guess his age.

“And by his accent whether he was local or not. The police will be onto that and lots of other things…like matching his DNA for instance…”

But she wasn’t listening to what he was saying and was instead drawn back into that dreadful alley again. Why in God’s name did I have to work late?

“Did you hear what I said? You have to be positive in this.”

She gave him a half-ironic smile.

“So how long are they keeping you here?”

“I don’t know. No one’s said. They’ve taken some X-rays and done other tests. They’ll probably come to a decision in the morning.”

“The flat will be so empty without you. I’ll miss you like crazy.”

She put her hand over her eyes. You’ll miss me, Blake. Is that the only thing you can say? She needed something else from him, wasn’t sure what—comfort and silence, perhaps. Total silence.

Couldn’t he give her that much?

“I wish they’d let me stay here with you, Donna.”

She moaned quietly.

Blake sat there for a while longer, not saying much else. Neither did she. An unfamiliar atmosphere grew between them, an uncertainty, a cloud of confusion; as if they’d become estranged.

Like two people on the edge of breaking up.

He rose, shrugged, made to touch her again, then let his arm fall to his side.

“I’d better go now, it’s getting late. See you tomorrow—Ok.”

If he really loved her, he’d insist on being allowed to stay as long as possible. But maybe she didn’t want him to linger in this room with her any longer—she didn’t know.

He backed toward the door. “Night, love.”

She glanced at him for a second, but didn’t answer.

She was glad he’d gone, yet part of her wanted him to stay. Her mind was in turmoil and she hurt all over.

Staring into space trying not to think of her predicament, she imagined herself being somebody else in another place, away from this room. She didn’t hear the door open nor did she see someone approach her bed.

“Donna.” It was a male voice, her doctor by the sound of it.

Her mouth opened, but no words came out.

“Would you like something to help you sleep?” he asked.

She nodded faintly, which he obviously took to mean yes. He gave her a couple of tablets with a glass of water. She took them, then lay back on her bed.

Slowly she felt herself slipping further down in the bed. Her eyes were heavy; her last images were of the concerned look on the doctor’s face.

Restless sleep followed.

She dreamt of the man who’d raped her, that he’d come to the flat intent on finishing the job. But Blake had burst in on him. There’d been a terrible fight, and Blake ended up with a beating worse than her own.

And Donna could do nothing to help him. She cried out in agony before waking with a jolt. For the first few seconds she was very disorientated, then came the realisation of where she was.

And as the early morning light seeped through the window blinds, it allowed her to see even more of her surroundings.

The agony she was in was almost too much to stand—how did you live through this and come out the other side?

With great difficulty she got out of bed, and shuffled towards the door as the pain from her ribs was intense. She observed the hospital in full swing, nurses and doctors going about their business, tending the sick.

The smell of disinfectant lingered in the atmosphere, and sensing the anxiety of those who waited fretfully for the outcome of operations, she began to tremble with dread.

Suddenly came the urge to run away, to get out of this awful place, and she would have too, if she hadn’t felt so weak and tired. Instead, she had to go back to rest on top of her bed.

Lying there, she wondered if the swelling on her face had gone down. The night before she’d been shocked to see her puffed up eyes, one of which she still couldn’t see out of properly.

Touching each of them gently, they felt just as bad. She must look ugly, and half wanted to remain this way, to retain a measure of anonymity.

And become a plain Jane, who never got looked at twice, instead of an object for men to crave.

But it was Blake’s reaction that worried her the most. He seemed unable to deal with the situation. She needed him to be strong, but maybe something in him had changed too, because of what had happened.

What if he didn’t care about her anymore?

Before the attack, he couldn’t keep his eyes or hands off her. Yet, now she feared he’d no longer want her, and dreaded life without him.

***

A little later, a nurse brought her a light breakfast, but she had difficulty in eating it due to her stitched lip. Afterwards, a doctor, a kind looking man with a warm smile, came over to see her.

“How are you feeling this morning, Donna?”

“All right,” she lied.

“We’ve had the results of your blood tests. All negative, thankfully. But you have four broken ribs, which we’ve bandaged, so I suggest you take it easy for a while so the bones get a chance to knit together again.

“Your face is badly bruised, but I assure you that it should heal within a week or two without any scarring. It looks a lot worse than it really is…honestly—so don’t worry.

“Oh and by the way, I’ve written to your GP advising him to arrange for you to see a counsellor to help you come to terms with your ordeal. I imagine he’ll contact you, once you get out of here.”

“When can I go home?” she asked.

“Soon. But you’ll need several weeks' rest before you even consider going back to work.”

Donna looked up at the doctor anxiously. “How will I ever get over this?”

“That’s a difficult question to answer. It all depends on the individual, and whilst you’ll never forget what happened, I honestly think you can get through this in time.

“No one’s saying it’s going to be easy, but it’s amazing how resilient people are when they need to be.

“And if the police do manage to catch this man quickly, before he does any more damage, it’ll be a huge weight off your mind.”

“I’ll never relax until they do.”

“You will, I’m sure with your family’s support. This wasn’t your fault, Donna—it was a random attack, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’re lucky to be alive, very lucky indeed.”

He smiled warmly at her.

“Now if there’s any other way I can help, you only have to ask. And remember there are lots of specially trained people and organisations out there, should you need them.

“Most times, you just need to pick up the phone. You take care now.”

She nodded, but didn’t think anyone could put this right.

 

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