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After spending the better part of the last two months in his wife’s embrace, Ryder sensed a change in her demeanor. Her concerns were written all over her face. To be honest, he was doing everything in his power to deter her from fully returning to work. But that was something he would only admit to himself.

He insisted, after the incident with Kemi, that she and he should visit her office together.

Accompanying her to work on a few occasions gave Ryder the idea of helping his wife to expand her practice. He presented her with a few key reasons why an expansion would help her practice. Because he was a contractor, he knew exactly what to say to get her on board with the project. As soon as she agreed with the idea, Ryder scheduled for his best construction crew to begin the project.

A larger wing was constructed creating a new office with state-of-the-art cameras and security features to monitor the traffic inside the facility. Anything else on the outside of the building was closely monitored up to three feet around the perimeter. A panic room was installed behind the wall to prevent intruders from gaining access to Lydia. Ryder also made sure an office was built to provided him with a workspace whenever he accompanied her to work. That was his way of allowing her to retain some semblance of independence, so Lydia wouldn’t complain about his presence.

Over the span of six weeks, Ryder spared no expense on the renovation of his wife’s business facility.

For as long as she would allow, he transformed the office that was connected to hers into a satellite office for his own business. This allowed him to become her shadow as the building’s renovations went on without a hitch or delay.


Their new normal consisted of rising in the morning, mind-blowing sex in the shower or the jacuzzi tub, breakfast, a little bit of work, nap, lunch, invigorating sexlisthenics... or should I say calisthenics incorporating sex... in the shower or tub, some type of self-defense training, chill time, supper, and the occasional make-out sex session until they fell asleep.

Lydia often felt the urge to touch him but before she decided to act, he would always respond as if his thoughts were in tune with hers. From there, the couple would find themselves locked in a passionate kiss, and then all bets were off.

In the midst of her amazing good fortune, the seed of doubt planted itself in her mind. It began to gnaw at her and even accuse her of neglecting a truth she had already considered before she ever met Ryder.

Where was she supposed to find the courage to approach a subject as sensitive as this? Lydia’s mind ran away with everything that concerned her most. Because she never really discussed with her husband or anyone all that transpired between herself and Kemi, she was afraid that he would somehow find her repulsive if he knew what she allowed that demon to do to her.

Not only was her ex brutal to her, but the man exhibited a sadistically sick fantasy for harming her in ways that were hidden from the naked eye. In fact, Lydia had been subjected to unspeakable acts of cruelty. The things Kemi did to her most certainly should be criminal. Not day went by without him brutalizing her in one way or another. The worst part of all was that she could have walked away long ago. Due to the love and respect, she held for her mother and father, she stayed. In many ways, she believed that she was partly to blame for her suffering.

Questioning herself seemed to be the latest course of action in her life. It was easy to point the finger at the creature to whom she had submitted herself, but was she not culpable as well? Didn’t she become a co-conspirator by never saying a word to the authorities or simply leaving to start over somewhere else? Her mind would allot Lydia no peace.

Lately, she found herself agonizing over the fact that her desire to have a child may have been stolen from her completely. The decision to stay with a barbarous fiend now threatened the paradise she and Ryder were enjoying together.

Because she dared not mention Kemi or the horrendous things he had done to her during their time together, Lydia decided to visit with a friend from medical school who had built up her practice to become a world-renowned fertility specialist. She needed to find out if everything was in good working order.

Lydia needed to know for sure that she was ok and everything was in working order. It wasn’t in her nature to be a selfish person. She knew it would be unfair for Ryder to stay with her believing they might have a family if that possibility no longer existed.


“Good morning, might I speak with Dr. Malik please?” Lydia inquired.

“This is she. May I ask who is calling at this hour and what does it concern?” The woman’s voice responded.

“This is Lydia.” She replied followed by a brief.

“Oh my god. Lydia... how have you been?” Even though they weren’t on a video call, Lydia visualized the wide smile on Ruha’s face.

She was one of the nicest people Lydia had ever met and a dear friend she respected and loved like she was a flesh and blood sibling.


While in medical school, being a loner wasn’t difficult at all because she had already spent so many years being picked on by others.

Lydia graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas, with a double major in business and biology. She had originally prepared to attend the medical program offered by UofT but decided once she completed her double major, it was time to go back home. She transferred to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences located in Little Rock, Arkansas where once again, she lost herself in her studies to remove herself from any opportunities to be bullied.

For some reason, having dark skin and the clearest blue eyes imaginable scared people. Either they thought she was wearing contacts and looked a mess for trying to pull off that look or they came to the realization that blue was her true eye color. Very few individuals appreciated the contrast and left her alone. Most often, girls would pick at her and call her a freak and the guys around them usually followed suit.

It wasn’t until she met two foreigners that her luck finally changed.

Ruha had only lived in the United States for a few years, so she was often a victim of harassment or bullying since she was from India. Her thick Punjabi accent and the way she rocked her head from side to side to emphasize every word she spoke was so cute to Lydia. Unfortunately, just being herself, made her the perfect target for some of the silly people at there school.

Popping up in the same classes caught their attention after they spoke a few times in the library. Soon the ladies became aware that they were both ostracized to a degree. After a few lengthy conversations which confirmed their similar interests, they began to hang out together and the rest was history.

With their non-stop study sessions and aggressive research practices, Lydia and Ruha became two of the top three students in their medical class.

At first, they fought with everything in our power to beat the guy who had the number one spot, but soon their fight fizzled out. Eventually, Hyun-woo Kim decided to join their little ragtag group of misfit toys.

With the highest GPAs in the school, no social life the entire time we were in college, and a healthy obsession for all things historical, Hyun, Lydia, and Ruha became family to one another.

No matter what was going on in school, with blood family, or life in general, the three students formed a support system that was crucial to the emotional and mental successes. They strengthened one another and promised to always make themselves available to one another because of their special bond.

Even though their social skills were a bit awkward and underdeveloped, their friendship was so strong it was as if it was forged by steel.

The main reason Lydia loved her friends was that they had been with her through some difficult time in her life, but she was deeply ashamed by the things she allowed to transpire in her life for the three years she and Kemi were together. Her friends would have helped her, but she couldn’t bear to look in their eyes and admit she was a victim of such ghastly abuse.

Lydia was ashamed then and to some degree, she was still ashamed. To admit she let it go so far was hard to even think about. She had no excuses or lies that would explain away what she was feeling. The only thing going through her mind was that she allowed him to separate her from the people who genuinely loved her. Lydia was warned that this would happen, but she wanted to believe she would grow into a loving relationship with a person who openly expressed his disdain for her.

If she could say she was never warned all of the sufferings she went through could be claimed as a terrifying surprise, but that wasn’t the case. The first time he laid a hand on her, she should have gotten out.

But she stayed.

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