For Better or Worse
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : S D Johnson
Word Count :59051
Publication Date :2021-12-10
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-3414-4
Victimhood would not define Beth Anderson. Hospital chaplain Matthew Thomas would see to that. He could never have foreseen the obstacles that would lie in the path to her recovery when he decided to help her, but he was there. Every step of the way.
Beth Anderson, the victim of a brutal attack, was left for dead. As far as she was concerned, her life was over. A chance encounter with a hospital chaplain would lead to her recovery—a recovery that would happen despite everything that fate threw in their way. His faith would be challenged, they would become entangled in the downfall of an eminent politician’s career, and Matthew’s life would hang by a thread. Would their love for each other be strong enough to pull them both through?
Beth Anderson had to eradicate her existence. Everything about her and her life was contaminated and needed to be destroyed. To do this she had to face the flat again, the place where it had happened.
Just walking through the front door made her heart pound. She glanced around. The forensic dust was still visible, and everything was not quite in its correct spot. She knew her support officer had done her best to get things put right, but every item lying slightly out of place delivered another stab of mental anguish.
Anything belonging to her in that small flat had to be removed. The first thing to go was the newspaper containing the report of the event that had brought her to this. She picked it up and read it one last time.
Judge describes rapist as an animal.
Wayne Jackson, 28, of Melbourne Street, pleaded guilty to attempted murder today at Billingham Crown Court.
The judge, Alice Jefferson, described it as an evil and calculated act against a courageous young woman. She said Jackson had behaved like an animal.
Jackson had been released on license just three days before the offence. He admitted forcing entry into the victim’s flat and subjecting her to three hours of torture before leaving her for dead.
Jackson was caught through DNA traces found by forensic experts at the scene. The judge detained him for psychiatric reports, pending sentencing.
Margaret Astle, the local MP, has called for an enquiry into Jackson’s early release. He had been serving a ten-year sentence for aggravated burglary and the rape of a sixty-year-old woman.
She threw the paper into the bin liner, knowing that made no difference to how she felt. Consigning it to the rubbish bag did not erase what had happened to her. Wayne Jackson was the reason she had to remove every trace of her existence.
She had booked a collection with a local man with a van. Normally, she would have consigned everything to the charity shop, but she was clear. Everything must go to the tip. It had to be destroyed.
She didn’t try to fool herself. She was not going to be able to get into her bed that night. It was the bed he’d dragged her from. She knew, if she was lucky, she might doze on the settee when she felt she could do no more.
She’d bought milk, knowing a cup of tea would be all she could face. She had never, at any time in her life, been as self-aware or decisive. There was no point buying food she would simply throw away uneaten. If ever there was a time to be truthful to herself, it was then.
She had to cleanse the flat of all traces of her. She started straight away by bagging up her clothes. It was good to be clear-minded and busy. It kept everything else under control.
Packing boxes had arrived, and she was able to box up her other possessions. There wasn’t much to pack, and it was odd to see how little her life amounted to. It was strangely satisfying to tape up each box of her stuff and move it on to the stack in the hall.
The last night in the flat felt like a relief. The packing was finished, and everything would be collected at nine the next morning. She curled up on the settee and gained some satisfaction from knowing she had removed all traces of herself from the flat, and by extension, the earth.
The van man came ten minutes early. He was a cheerful, whistling, prematurely aged young man. His clothes reeked of tobacco and his tattoos carried the stories of his life up to that point. The birth dates and names of three children were prominent. He had several teeth missing, but it did not stop him smiling.
“Doing a flit, love?” he asked. “Hope you’re up-to-date with your rent.” He laughed at his own joke and set to loading his van, whose scrapes and dents told the story of either a reckless driver or a very unlucky one.
She paid him and closed the door behind him. She had decided not to write to her parents. It would only cause needless guilt, because they had no power to delete the night of terror from her memory.
She took a knife from the kitchen, went to the bathroom, climbed in the bath, and with no hesitation, cut her wrists. It was straightforward and clinical.
She had failed to kill herself. It took her some time for her to piece together the scene as she gradually came round. She was in the emergency department of the local hospital once more, and there was a frenzy of activity around her. The haze of colours and the blur of voices started to come into focus, and she came to a vague awareness of what was happening.
Eventually, when the emergency treatment was finished, and her condition was stabilised, they allowed her landlady to come in to see her. She had travelled with Beth in the ambulance so the hospital staff, assumed there was some connection there.
“You’ve pulled through then?”
“Thank you,” Beth said when she recognised her. She wasn’t sure why she was there.
“I know you’ve been through it, but it doesn’t entitle you to expect me to be the one to find you and clear up your mess.”
“I’m sorry.” Her voice was weak. She realised the woman must have found her and called for the emergency services.
The woman huffed. “Anyway, you’ve cleared the flat and I see you’ve paid for your notice. We’ll call it quits. I hope you go on all right.” She turned and left the bay.
Beth was now the girl with no past. She had no home, no belongings and absolutely no desire to revisit the events that had brought her to this. She was nobody. Her attempt to escape from it all, carefully planned, had been foiled by accident.
She drifted back into the blackness of her oblivion.