'This morning the renowned hotel owner Daryl Smith who has been making headlines these few weeks was arrested by the police at his residence on account of an alleged sexual assault against one Miss Evelyn Wright who was said to have been out on a date with him and when they took the date further in his penthouse where he was temporarily staying during his break from his wife, Daryl sexually assaulted the young, or rather allegedly assaulted the young woman because nothing has been confirmed yet, but will keep you in touch as to what really happened,' the female broadcaster finished as the channel changed to the advertisement.
The so many gazes that swept my way as soon as the news ended had my feet unfrozen from where I stood at the onset of the news and I quickly hurried away, my heart pounding in my chest as I fled.
I pressed the bell for the shift with a shaky hand, waiting impatiently for its arrival, my feet tapping restlessly on the floor. My heart continued to pound loudly in my ears, as I kept my gaze on the floor, once the lift arrived I hurried inside, glad that Inside the lift I slumped against the wall trying not to panic, everything is out now and within few minutes everyone is going to know what happened to me, I wanted to go back down and run like hell from this place, unwilling to face the stares that are going to be following me around like bees to honey, not to talk about the side talks, but I had no other choice than to brave it out, after all, I promised Elena I was good to work today.
The lift stopped at the main office complex and I took several deep breaths to prepare myself and stepped out my steps faltering a bit as my nervousness overwhelmed me. I made my way inside knowing and scared of the reaction I was going to receive but hoping I was wrong.
I wasn't wrong. The freezing silence as I entered let me know that the news is all over the place, the silence stares that followed me as I made my way towards Elena office confirmed my fears, and it didn't take long for the side talks to begin, in fact, I wasn't even granted the courtesy of leaving the room before the whispers began.
It is amazing how people seem to have an opinion of things they don't know the full story about. Most of the things they were saying took my mind back to my own harsh judgment when I first read Charlotte's story, I let out a bitter chuckle inwardly at the sting of karma. Wearing her shoes and having people who don't know say all sorts of bad things about me and what they think really happened made me wonder the kind of hell she must have gone through, it must have been a nasty one if she was forced to retract her statements.
I lucked out their words trying not to let them get to me, not to further bruise my already hurt heart but some of their hateful words still got through. One, in particular, threw a blow to my soul as I reeled back as literally struck. The comment was made by one of the guys working in the sports section. Since I arrived here I haven't had the pleasure of interacting with him, though from the stories whispered among the female staff about his inappropriateness with some of the females. He is considered good looking by some, which he took to me being irresistible to the female species even when his attention is not wanted. I wasn't surprised by his callous statement, saying I must have asked for it that we women always go around flaunting ourselves in short dresses tempting the men and when they ask for it we claim to refuse. That is the kind of response I expected from a man with his kind of reputation but that didn't stop his words from hurting me, as I felt tears well up in my eyes. I don't believe that a woman dresses or the way she acts should give the men to take sexual favors from us even when we are saying no. Our no should really be respected as no.
I turned to glare at the despicable man, whose only response was a smirk in my direction. I released an aggrieved sigh and enters Elena's office. Let's face it there is no changing the way he views women and no amount of glaring in my part will make him see otherwise.
At my entrance, my boss looked up "are you okay?" She asked seeing the expression on my face, which was a mixture of fear, anger, and hurt. Fear of the unknown, anger at the words being whispered about me, and hurt from everything that has happened to me.
"Yes," I answered in a curt tone, not looking at her as I went about my normal duties seriously trying to act as nothing happened.
My boss looked at me with those sharp pale blue eyes of hers, trying to see through my soul, but I schooled my feature to mask everything I was feeling at that moment. Unable to figure out anything from my face she turned around and went back to her work, but her next words caused me to freeze and to lose several of the documents I had in my hand for filing.
"What happened between you and Mr. Smith she asked in a no-nonsense tone that demanded I tell her the truth.
I gulped at her question, contemplating if I should tell her my story, will she believe me I wondered. I was scared of recounting the whole story only for it not be believed or she making some off-handed comment on how I wasn't wise to fall into such a situation as I heard some of the females whisper outside, so I decided to go on the safe side. " it is as the media said " I muttered in a lifeless tone.
She nodded her head, I was surprised when I felt a calm touch on my hand, startling me. I turned to look at the woman who since I have known her has always acted aloof and closed off looking at me with tenderness and something akin to solidarity, as if she understood what I was going through, not just on a level of female to female it was as if she has experienced the same thing. This was confirmed when I saw a flash of pain go through her eyes as if in remembrance of old hurt. I wanted to ask her what happened and how she was able to get through it to become the strong woman she is, but have been unwilling to share my own sordid experience I didn't have any right asking her to relieve hers. I am here if you need anything were her calm words before she let go to continue her work.
The knowledge that someone went through what am going through now and survived to make the best out of life for herself gave me the strength to get through the whole day. And getting through the day was not an easy one I must tell you, as I had to suffer through more stares and nasty side comments, though not all were bad some showed sympathy others felt righteous anger on my behalf.
It was lunchtime, but today I decided to take it in the office, can you blame me. I was busy eating the salad that mum made for me with some orange juice when a knock sounded on the door and it opened to let in Olivia. Elena had an errand to run so I had the office to myself.
I haven't seen Olivia since the news of my rape broke this morning, seeing her in my office I just gave her a wane smile before turning back to my food. I wasn't really in the mood for company, but I wasn't brought up to be rude so I swallowed the words that were on the tip of my mouth begging to come out and put on a fake cheerful expression as I resigned myself to having a company for lunch.
She made herself comfortable in one of the chairs in the room, before turning to look at me, with a serious expression on her face blurted out " Am so sorry that Daryl Smith raped you, I thought he was a nice man, I even had a crush on him not knowing he was such a virile man, she continued on not minding that I was choking from the bluntness of her words. When she was done expressing her irate at having miss judge Daryl Smith she looked on at me as if expecting some kind of response to her tirade. I burst into laughter, the comic face of confusion and bewilderment at my amusement was not helping me calm down, I laughed till my laughter turned into tears, and then she was up from her seat and beside me in a second, worry clouding her tone as she inquired if I was alright. I allowed myself to release all the pent emotions of the day, she just squatted beside me and patted my back in consolation, I was grateful that she didn't shower me with many words of encouragement like, it was going to be alright and all those other bullshit people tell you to make you feel better when they are more after sounding better.
I was busy munching my food my mind rehearsing the news this morning, I was happy that the bastard has been arrested, it has taken a little load off my chest but I couldn't help being worried about what next. The detective is yet to contact us, maybe we will be hearing from her soon. I heard someone drag the stool of my neighbors bringing it to my side to seat beside me, I turned and came face to face with two blue eyes filled with concern and anger.
"Thanks, Olivia for being blunt like always, it was refreshing," I told her.
"You are welcome she said shrugging her shoulders, but I knew she didn't understand why I was thanking her. It just that it felt good that one person was able to address the issue to my face rather than all these back talks the others were doing immediately I enter the room.
" So what is going to happen next?" Olivia asked me as she took back her seat.
"I don't know" was my honest reply. She nodded her head and was about to say something when Elena entered the office.
Immediately Olivia jumped to her feet as she looked at my boss like she was going to bite her any minute, making me chuckle lowly.
"Hello Miss Bennett, " Elena greeted Olivia in a cool voice before taking her seat where she peered at the floundering woman with mild amusement.
He..hello, good morning, I mean afternoon sir, I mean ma, Olivia spoke a flustered voice her cheeks flushing red at her blunder, killing me slowly with mirth. I had to hold my hand to my mouth to hold in the chuckle that was begging to come out.
"Relax Miss Bennett, I don't bite" Elena spoke to the flustered girl in a soft calm tone trying to relax the girl who was fidgeting on her feet.
Her words reminded me of when Daryl said the same thing, a reminder of that incident brought everything back causing me to lose the smile on my face as a pensive look took its place.
I will see you later Olivia mumbled out to me before dashing away from the office as if hounds of hells were on her heels.
By the time work was over I was so ready to get out of here, I walked out of the lobby to be faced with so many flashes and cameras as reporters surrounded me.
I froze like a deer caught in headlights. They all enclosed me throwing questions upon questions at me and I just stood there wide-eyed not knowing what to do I felt claustrophobic as space closed in on me and my breathing became fast, I was on the verge of another panic attack.
I felt a firm grip on my hand, "she does not have anything to say!" Elena spoke out loud beside me, her voice hard and stern before she dragged me away muscling her way through.
When she reached her car she quickly opened the passenger side for me and helped me inside.
I sat down numb from shock, I wasn't expecting this to happen but I should have expected it seeing who Daryl Smith was.
I leaned my head against the seat with eyes closed hoping that all these were just nightmares that I will wake up from one day.
"Are you alright?" Elena asked looking at me, with a slight bit of worry sipping from her tone.
I didn't answer immediately but finally nods my head as she started her car.
Her car smelt nice, just like her perfume, it had a soft musk, not so harsh and not feminine and it suited her. The interior of the car was neat and well organized. Her seats were leather coated. And there was soft music, classic playing through her speaker.
"Am gonna need your address" she said after driving for few minutes.
I told her the address, suddenly I felt very tired, I leaned back in the seat and allowed the cool music to lure me to sleep.
"Wake up!" Evelyn, I heard someone whisper close to my ear but it sounded far away, the next time the voice came it was accompanied by a hand that shook me firmly waking me up from sleep.
"What! I said softly, feeling a little disoriented.
"You are home" the voice states.
I looked in the direction of the voice to see the face of my boss looking back at me. I nodded my head still trying to get my bearing as the cobwebs of sleep were still clouding my senses.
"Thanks, Miss Lewis for bringing me home and for everything," I said in a grateful voice and opened the door to step out when I had her say you are welcome softly.
She waited until I was safely inside before she drove away.
I guess my boss was not all just barks and bites she also has a soft and caring side which I just witnessed this evening. I am so grateful for her timely rescue this evening, I didn't know what I would have done without her help.
I saw the news were the words that greeted me as soon as I made it into the house.
"Yes, the bastard is finally arrested" I growled flinging myself on top of the couch.
"How was it at work today?" mum asked in concern.
"It was going pretty well until the news broke and it was all whispers and looks following me around and the worse was the reporters lying in wait for me outside the office, " I finished in an irritated tone.
Mum looked at me in sympathy, before pulling me into her arms in comfort.
I didn't want to tell mum about the panic attack I had when I arrived at work, I didn't want her to be more worried than she is already is.
"I guess there will be a lot of publicity surrounding this, are you ready for it baby?" she asked taking my hand in hers as she sat beside me on the couch.
"Whether am ready or not the news is out there and there is no going back," I said in a resigned tone, lying back on the couch with one hand thrown over my eyes.
"I promise you baby will conquer this together," she said in a determined tone, pushing my hair which I have gone back to wearing in curls behind my ears.
"I hope so mum" I whispered with a little bit of doubt clouding my tone, as I let out a huge yawn, I was really tired.
"Are you up for dinner? I made lasagna is in the oven, " mum asked me still stroking her fingers through my hair.
I shook my head no. Though I was feeling hungry at the moment I was bone tired, I just wanted to go up and crash, forgetting all the dramas of today.
"Night mum, " I said dragging myself off to bed.
I woke up gasping for breath with sweat running down my body, it was the same nightmares that have been plaguing my dreams since the incident but this time around it featured Daryl smug face as he was leaving the police station where he was being held bragging that he was free.
It was pretty disturbing, I don't know what I will do if Daryl gets away with this, I wondered in my mind with a little bit of panic and resentment.
I sat up going to the bathroom I poured cold water on my face before looking up at the mirror and I couldn't believe what was looking back at me.
My eyes look sunken with shadows around it and my face thinner than it used to be, I have really lost weight these past few days.
I made my way downstairs knowing I was not going back to sleep again. I went to the oven and brought out the lasagna mum made last night reheating it I went to the living room to eat it, I turned on the television, it was on the news channel and it had Daryl Smith being released on bail, bringing to fruition my worse fears.
"Fucking bastard!" I screamed out loud, my appetite gone.