1 - AN ILLUSION
**“This chapter depicts brutal physical and verbal abuse.“**
Another day another dollar. Lydia never really considered the words she muttered to herself. It was just something that flowed from her without requiring any type of deep-thinking process. Many of her other actions were carried out in pretty much the same way. Warmly greeting her patients and staff was all her. She was genuine with her affections and people loved her for it.
There was nothing flaky about the way she treated others. Because she was generous with how she expressed her concern for people, Lydia earned a great amount of respect in her community.
Building good rapport was one of the key tenets of a great doctor. Her main goal in life was to accomplish the level of success her mentor enjoyed as a result of his renowned magic touch.
Patients believed him capable of curing anything due to his ability to reach those he cared for on the most basic level. His ‘Bedside Manner’ was so positive and gentle, they often trusted anything he said even if it was clearly too farfetched to be real.
She also hoped to be known as a fair boss. The clinic staff was her most important tool and therefore, Lydia knew she must treat them well to ensure the public’s every experience would exceed their expectations.
As she walked around the building, she reminded herself of just how important it was to guard her image and reflect the presence of a competent professional to everyone. Her mentor taught her that a doctor’s image was everything.
With her staff’s return from lunch, it was time to finish the home stretch of the day. To confirm that three patients were already present, gave her something more to smile about. Many more would stream in before the day was over and that was just fine by her standards.
Her motto was... “the more the merrier”. It was good for business to have a steady flow of people in and out of the clinic.
Lydia smiled, greeted the patients who were already seated, and headed straight for her office as soon as she rounded the corner. The walk through the waiting room wasn’t such a great distance. If it weren’t for the sting of discomfort which had been haunting her all day, she would have made to her office with ease.
Lydia often felt blessed to work in the local medical clinic that she owned. The rewards of her interactions with the public far exceeded anything she could have ever imagined. The opportunity to educate and help so many was her life’s dream.
As she looked up to see her office door a mere ten feet away, sharp pains in her right side nearly took her down to the floor. It was as if something sliced deep inside her body. Luckily no one witnessed her attempt to recover from the debilitating surge of pain. Lydia was determined to make it inside without anyone catching sight of her limping over her affliction.
“Dr. Kensington, you have a call on line one.” George informed her as she walked by the nurse’s station.
“Ok. I’ll be with them shortly. Thanks, George.” She replied as she walked by.
The moment she sat down; another pain raced straight up her back. Why in the world was she always forgetting to take it easy? The thought rushed across her mind. Everything would be fine if she would just remember to be a little more careful.
No matter how often she chided herself for being so forgetful, Lydia always managed to push her afflictions to the back of her mind. As a result, she reignited the intensity of the pain frequently throughout many of her long days.
Her solution for everything was to center her focus more on work. That was the answer to every problem in her life.
As soon as she was settled behind her desk, Lydia grabbed the phone and answered the line that was now flashing red.
“Hello, this is Dr. Lydia Kensington speaking. How may I assist you today?” She stated sweetly to the caller.
“What took you so long to answer this damn phone?” The always confident doctor instantly changed her demeanor. She slumped over her desk and sunk down in her chair as if the person on the phone was standing right in front of her. Even her breathing shifted as she felt herself descend into a sort of panicked state at the sound of his voice.
“Baby, I’m sorry. I just made it back to the office.” Trembling words were meant to stifle the anger she imagined was increasing in the caller to the point of causing an explosion. Lydia had no desire to frustrate him any further. Whatever hell or chaos occurred between them on the phone would be revisited the moment she stepped one foot through the door of their home. She had no intention of bringing any more trauma to herself.
“You better learn to speed your ass up, woman. You know I always call you at 2 pm. I don’t care what you have to do from now on. Make sure your ass is in that office, in that seat, behind that desk before I call you or so help me God you will wish you were never born when I get through with you.” The distorted sound in her left ear was due to the unnatural blaring heard briefly when he slammed the phone down. For a moment, there was a loud ringing in her ear, and then just like that... nothing.
As always, Lydia stared at the phone for an unnaturally long period of time. She had no idea how her relationship with the most beautiful man she had ever known morphed into this. It was as if she was trapped in a non-stop nightmare from which there was no hope of escape.
When the phone rang next, she nearly jumped out of her skin. Her nurse called to inform her of the three o’clock appointments that were waiting to be seen.
Lydia knew it was time to put on a smile and fortify herself. She had to remember to be a knowledgeable professional, even though she was very fragile and deeply shaken.
Remember, you are a doctor, and no one can take that away from you. She spoke the words she needed to hear, even if it was just for the sake of quieting her nerves.
An eerie feeling greeted her as she walked into the house. All the lights were off, and the cleanliness of the place coupled with silence threw her off a bit. Based on what she saw, it was a definite sign that she was alone.
Quickly, she dashed up the stairs to her bedroom. The idea of a nice hot shower captivated her mind. It was nice to get out of her work clothes without a barrage of accusations and questions. Lydia was grateful for the opportunity to hop in the shower before she went downstairs to figure out what she would prepare for dinner.
It was mind-numbing to acknowledge that she no longer cared to find her fiancé in the house when she reached it at the end of the day. After three years of dating, she had once believed they should already be married with a baby here or on the way. The only thing she and Kemi shared was a mutual affiliation for one another. Their relationship was more like that of roommates than lovers.
As they continued their pretense of the happily engaged couple, Lydia came to realize the love she desperately sought no longer resided with them, if it ever really took residence between the two at all.
After many attempts to discuss the lost love and cold environment he had installed as a barriar between them, Kemi’s silence further convinced her of how dysfunctional their relationship really was.
The man she was supposed to marry showed no interest in her at all. When she mistakenly brought up her concerns with her mother, Lydia was told to shut her mouth and quit complaining. Any words she spoke about canceling the wedding were instantly struck down and made a forbidden conversation topic.
Wedding invitations went out as planned in accordance with both families’ stipulations. Everyone was overjoyed as the day closed in for the two young people to finally tie the knot.
Lydia accepted the duty she once believed to be a dream come true. Trusting a man who had no love for her was once a situation she worked diligently to overcome, but now, she resolved herself to the fact that the fantasy was never meant to become a reality.
Everything raced through her mind as she enjoyed the hot water splattering against her expresso colored skin. The massaging jets were just what she needed after a long hard day, so she allowed them to meet the specifications of their design as the gentle pulsation soothed her worries away.
Cold-water forced her back to reality. She jumped out of the shower in search of warmth along with something relaxing to wear. When Lydia stepped into the bedroom, her mind went into a frenzy. The moment the cold air hit her; she took it as a cue to get dressed quickly before it was too late.
She knew HE was now in the house.