THEY TOLD HER BLAKE WAS WITH A CUSTOMER WHEN SHE PHONED TO ASK HIM TO PICK HER UP FROM THE HOSPITAL. So she left a message, telling him she was ready to go home. With luck he wouldn’t be too long.
She sat in the easy chair by her bed, suitcase beside her, waiting for him to come. Her dark sunglasses covered most of her face.
After about half an hour she looked outside and noticed it had started to rain, which just about summed up her mood. When there was no sign of him she began to feel on edge.
It must have been another fifteen minutes before she saw him ambling towards her, apparently without a care in the world. How dare he be so insensitive?
‘Ready to go?’ he asked her, without even apologising.
Feeling dejected she replied, ‘I am. So where have you been until now?’
‘Oh, I got stuck in traffic – and then I couldn’t find a place to park. It was horrendous.’
‘Blake, I’ve been sitting here for ages. People keep looking at me strangely, probably wondering what I’m doing here.’
‘Sorry love, but I couldn’t do much about it,’ he protested.
She gave him a dirty look annoyed by his pathetic excuses. Her feelings of vulnerability and insecurity started to heighten again, and there he was acting as if being late didn’t matter. But to her it did... very much.
They walked out of the hospital together, but she sauntered slowly, stooping like an old woman, waving away all his offers of help. When he walked briskly on ahead of her, it seemed like they didn’t know one another.
All the way home, she was on tenterhooks, and his attempts to make conversation were met with stony silence.
Their flat was in a sedate suburb of Dexford. Blake parked the car outside the four-storey block of flats. Theirs was on the ground floor. He went in first, through the small hallway into the living room, which led through to the kitchen. On the back wall, above the bookcase hung a framed photograph of Donna in her cap and gown, and directly underneath it the certificate for her First Class Mathematics Degree, her proudest moment. Further along the hall were two bedrooms; and sandwiched in between was the bathroom. All tastefully laid out with expensive fixtures and fittings.
She shrugged aside Blake’s attempt to help her take off her coat, then went to the bathroom to freshen up. Removing her dark glasses, she surveyed herself in the mirror that took up one wall of the room, and didn’t like what she saw. The facial injuries remained almost unaltered. Her skin seemed pale. There was a haggard look about her, which she thought had aged her ten years. She cursed herself for not being able to give a good description of him, but it was no use. No matter how hard she tried, nothing came to mind, except the putrid smell of him and that strange laugh of his. The man had disguised himself too well.
At last, with her dark glasses back on, she came out, sat down on the white leather settee, a little way from Blake watching the Sports News on TV.
‘All right, love?’ He smiled. ‘There’s a drink on the table if you want it.’
She took a sip, but didn’t enjoy the hot chocolate even though normally it was her favourite drink.
Blake kept glancing at her with nervous concern. But no matter how hard he tried to strike up a conversation, it seemed he was fighting a losing battle.
She sat staring at the screen, not seeing the action in front of her. And guessed Blake wasn’t sure what to make of her. Well, she wouldn’t say any more about her ordeal, and certainly not for his benefit. She didn’t even want to think about it. And as long as he didn’t mention the subject, she’d be all right.
After a while, Blake got up and said, ‘So what you want for tea?’
‘Anything,’ she said in a disinterested tone of voice.
‘How about a steak and kidney pie out of the freezer?’
‘Sure - whatever.’
Obviously wishing she’d show a little more enthusiasm, he went away to prepare the meal. Sadly she couldn’t motivate herself for anything.
Later he put the plate in front of her, and watched while she ate. Despite the appetising smell of the meal, she wasn’t hungry.
She ate slowly, and when Blake finished before her, he was quick to say, ‘Look love, if you’re not hungry, just leave it.’
‘Sorry.’ She put down her knife and fork.
His lips formed a straight line of disappointment, but he didn’t say anything.
‘I’ll sit here for a while, if you don’t mind. Leave the TV on – all right?’
‘Sure, no problem. It’s up to you, love.’
He washed up, and although he didn’t complain, Donna could tell he wasn’t happy. Well, she had more pressing things to worry over than his bruised pride. Like where her attacker was hiding. And if the police were any nearer catching him, after her almost non-existent description of him. They’d told her there were no matches on the police database to the DNA samples they’d taken. It seemed hopeless.
She wondered how many others he’d attacked; how many more he’d beaten and raped, and was filled with a sudden rage. He was out there now, probably planning another assault. Maybe he looked ordinary, the kind of guy no one paid attention to, another anonymous nobody, but he was very dangerous and capable of anything. These thoughts made her feel very vulnerable and afraid.
Half an hour later, Blake sat down next to her, a glum expression on his face. No doubt fed up of this situation. He kept glancing at her again as if he hoped she’d talk to him.
‘Blake, what the hell’s the matter with you now?’ She turned to face him in an almost aggressive manner.
‘Nothing, I’m concerned about you - that’s all.’
‘I’ll be fine, Blake. I... I just need some time...’
‘All right, all right... I can see that. But I do worry over you, you must realise that.’
‘Well... I’m all right,’ Tears had welled up in her eyes. He tried to put his arms around her but she moved back from him. ‘Please don’t touch me, I’ve already told you I can’t stand that... right now.’
With a hurt look on his face, he said, ‘Sorry.’
They didn’t speak after that, the only sound came from the television. Around ten o’clock feeling tired, she got up off the sofa and sighed. ‘Think I’m going to bed now,’ she informed him.
‘Ok, I’ll come as well.’
In the bathroom, with difficulty she changed into her nightwear, and left the room wearing a full length red dressing gown. She got into bed, while Blake went into the bathroom, hoping to be asleep by the time he’d finished. But no. After only a few minutes she heard the door open; and dreaded what he might do next.
He got in beside her and at once tried to snuggle up to her. She froze, then pushed him away with her elbow.
‘Oh for God’s sake – what now?’ He said as if she’d given him an electric shock.
‘Please Blake. I’ve already told you not to touch me.’
‘All right, suit yourself,’ he sighed, swiftly moving to own his part of the bed.
He remained quiet after that. She sensed his impatience.
They lay apart for a few minutes. He yawned and stretched out, before turning onto his side with his back to her, which made her tremble with anger. She pulled back the covers to get out of bed, struggled into her dressing gown, then walked to the spare room, and got into the single bed. And prayed Blake wouldn’t follow, but within a couple minutes he did.
‘Hey come on - surely, you’re not going to sleep in here tonight.’
‘Well, I’m not sleeping with you – that’s for sure...’
He rolled his eyes. ‘Donna - I didn’t do anything. All right, so you’re upset, but I only wanted to show you some affection. I love you, always will do, no matter what happens. And I’m doing my level best for God’s sake, so why are you being so hostile to me?’
‘Just go, will you!’ She got out of the bed to push him towards the door with as much force as she could despite her injuries. His attitude stank. Anyone would think he was the only person hurt in this.