12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 44

I don’t know what caused me to be so abrupt. Well, I kind of do. Thinking of the ordeal I went through always makes me pull back. It brings out the self-doubt. That I’m dirty and tainted. That I’ll never be good enough for anybody. I know I couldn’t control the situation. I know I didn’t ask for it, but it doesn’t make me feel any less damaged.

Satine enters her office and flashes me a smile, “Hello Hadlee.” Her voice is warm and friendly. Which isn’t like her. She usually has an authoratitive yet monotone voice.

“Hey, Satine,” I greet her with a weak smile and a light shoulder shrug.

“I was on a call. I’m sorry if you had to wait long.” She’s shuffling through a stack of papers on her desk and I assume she’s looking for her notepad.

“I didn’t have to wait long.” I start playing with my fingers.

Satine finally pulls out her notepad and scurries around the edge of her desk before sitting down and crossing her long tanned legs. “So let’s get started then. How are things?” She pins her long black hair up with a pen and grabs another before I start talking.

“I guess better,” I say. “Slowly but surely right?”

She nods. “You’re still sleeping through the night?”

“Well I’m still taking my Ambien.” I don’t think I’d be able to sleep through the night without it.

“And the self-defense classes?”

“They’re educational.”

“Melissa tells me that you had an outburst your first day.”

I don’t know why this blindsides me. Maybe because even though part of me knew that Melissa would report back to Satine, I didn’t want her to. “She put her arm around my neck. It reminded me…It reminded me…” I struggle to get my sentence out. “It reminded me of him.”

“But other than that? Is that the only issue you had with the class?”

“Yes,” I breathe. Other than that moment, I like that I’m learning how to prevent another attack from happening.

“How about school? How is that going?”

“Okay,” I say, my vocal chords quivering. I swallow the jumble of emotion in my throat. “I still feel like there’s something pressing on my chest. Like I’m always having to look over my shoulder. I still panic when I see guys wearing dark gray jogging suits.”

Satine looks at me thoughtfully. “But you’re still making progress?” I’m not really sure if that was a question or statement.

“Yes,” I say uneasily. “I think so.”

“You think so?” Satine’s voice is questioning. “Can you elaborate for me, Hadlee?”

The second her eyes drop to the notepad I roll my eyes and force out. “Sometimes I think I’m making progress. Then something random happens like a man I don’t know brushing up against me, or a woman I don’t know, like Melissa gets dangerously close to my neck. Then it feels like all the progress I think I’ve made gets tucked into a dark corner of my brain, and I feel like I’m beginning the process of healing all over again.”

“That’s normal,” Satine comments. “There is always going to be something in the back of your mind that triggers that moment between you and your attacker. He took a piece of your dignity away from you the day he tried to rape you, and that’s something you won’t forget for a long while. But,” she pauses and stares at me, deadpan, “the most important thing is that you’re trying. That you’re willing to put together the building blocks of the healing process and try and overcome the last year and six months. That’s major progress Hadlee. Major progress.” Her eyes form slants and she tilts her head. “I’m lowering your dosage of the Ambien . I think you’ll still get all the rest you need if you take 250 milligrams instead of 400.”

Fear floods through me and my stomach lurches. I start to panic. Tapping my foot. Raking my teeth over my bottom lip. I can’t go back to that dark place. I can’t go back to that night. Even if it’s in my dreams. “Are you…Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I stammer.

“Yes.” Satine sits back in her chair and taps the tip of her pen against her notepad. “I’m the professional, remember?”

“I remember,” I tell her.

What I don’t tell her is that you don’t have to rub it in.

~ ~ ~

After my appointment with Satine, as terrified as I am about lowering my dosage of the Ambien, part of me feels like there has been a new found sense of hope instilled in me. In a way I feel liberated and free and I feel like doing something spontaneous. So I decide to go for a jog.

I know. I know.

Bold move, right?

Tags: Lauren Hammond Knockout Romance
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