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**This chapter depicts triggering words dealing with thoughts of suicide.**


Wavering in the crisp cold morning breeze, she stood on the bridge railing unaware of what invisible source gave her the strength to climb onto the edge.

Her joints and muscles ached and screamed their protest of the effort required to position herself on the edge. New wounds and old ones should have rendered her incapable of reaching the heights she had climbed. Because her brain wasn’t communicating properly with the rest of her body, Lydia’s lack of concern for her life gave her the stuff she needed to overcome any obstacle.

It won’t take long. Lean forward and surrender to the wind. You won’t suffer long. The voice encouraged her closer to the edge.

It was safe to say the blow from the impact of hitting the water would probably knock her out. If it did manage to hurt at all, the pain most likely would only last for a very short period of time. She was sure the icy cold water would send her into hypothermia within a matter of seconds and should she close her eyes and take in as deep a breath as possible at that point, it would all be over.

The wind nudged her with the gentlest of pushes as if it was assuring her soon it would all be okay if she simply gave in. Lydia moved closer to the edge seduced by the thought of ending her torment.

No more beatings. No more bruises. No more suffering. No more punishment for being too dark. No more punishment for being too fat. No more punishment for not being her sister. A soft whisper encouraged further still.

The view from the bridge was so terrifying Lydia was convinced it would strike fear in the hearts of the most adventurous thrillseeker. An accumulation of death ideations raced through her mind in a horrifying procession.

But how could she hold onto her current existence? Lydia wouldn’t wish her suffering on her worst enemy, even though she knew of no one whom she’d consider that to be.

Her life was more unbearable than the fear of death.

As if on cue, a pain raced from her right hip straight up her spine. In the end, the pain made it easier for her to make her peace with the world. She had suffered enough of it for several people living multiple lifetimes.

Lydia said her goodbyes as she closed her eyes and leaned forward. It would only take a few minutes to silence all the noise in her head and dull all the pain. Just a few glorious precious moments and it would all be over.

She was prepared to do it after all when she felt herself being lifted. At first, she thought it was a glorious wind that was carrying her sailing down floating like a leaf.

But there was a problem. The pain that shot through her body was all too familiar. It was like the many times Kemi drug her up from the floor to make it easier for him to continue his act of defiling her body. The thought of him touching her forced her eye wide open to find that she wasn’t in the wind or the water. Her body was in so much pain there was nothing left in her to fight off the man who was carrying her.

The stranger cradled her close to a chest that was surely made of stone. Lydia couldn’t remember the last time a man lifted her as if she were light as a feather.

“Nothing could be so bad to make you want to kill yourself.” His words penetrated the destructive spirit controlling her mind. She had already given in to her decision. Though he attempted to comfort her, the look of sorrow in his eyes only made her heart ache more from the shame must bear as a result of allowing her life to disintegrate the way it had.


“I don’t care what we have to do at this point, I want this contract signed and I want it RIGHT NOW! I won’t take NO for an answer. My father exhausted his last breath explaining how important it was to the family that I take care of this problem. He did everything in his power to secure the purchase of that building as well as the land surrounding it, but that son-of-a-bitch refused to name a price. That shifty motherfucker cheated my aunt. The asshole walks around acting like he’s some kind of business genius when he is nothing more than a low-life con artist. There is no honor in that scumbag, and I can’t wait to bring him down.” Ryder concluded the conversation with his attorney and clicked the end button to finish the call.

The end of a business day had no set hours in his world. It was around two-thirty in the morning when he left the office. Sleep was a luxury reserved for losers. When it came to a business deal he had in mind to close, sleep was one of his least interesting activities.

Ryder was in the middle of reclaiming property which had been swindled out of his aunt’s hands. As he reached the Lockelan bridge, as usual, it signified that he had nearly made it home. Ryder was thankful for the comfort awaiting him on his secured property. The bridge acted as a landmark to signal that his estate was a mere ten minutes away.

Halfway across the bridge, he noticed what appeared to be a relatively new white Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet. It was odd for such a nice vehicle to be parked on the bridge. There were the occasional tourists who stopped to take a picture on the bridge, but those occasions were few and far between. To be parked there at that such an early hour in the morning left him with a bit of a chill.

As he made his approach, he noticed the car lights were still on. The driver’s side door stood open, and yet, there was no one inside. Slowing down in consideration of what seemed a bit out of place, a sick feeling washed over him. Though it was his motto to stay out of other people’s business, the scene felt wrong. He tried not to judge people or get caught up in their messy little lives.

Despite the warning bells going off in his mind, Ryder decided to continue on his way as usual and worry about himself when he caught a glimpse of someone hovering on the railing. He could not get over the fact that the person looked like they were about to jump from the bridge.

He cruised past the individual by about thirty feet when a heaviness sat on his chest. In an instant, he turned to look behind him and saw there was no sign of on-coming traffic. He slammed the truck in reverse and backed up quickly until he was close enough to confirm that a woman was positioned on the very edge.

Without a moment’s hesitation, the truck was shifted into the park position just as he leaped out of the truck to race over to the bridge railing just in time to stop her before she went too far.

“Come down from there,” Ryder screamed against the wind as he reached her. He attempted to talk her down from the guardrail, but she seemed oblivious to anything going on around her. The woman didn’t acknowledge him at all.

Her body leaned forward against his protests prompting him to spring into action.

“What are you doing? I know something must have upset you, but nothing could be that bad to make you kill yourself.” He spoke the words to her back.

Ryder pulled her away from the railing just in case she should make a break for it and successfully make it over. It wasn’t until she turned to face him that the cold hand of grief crushed his heart when his eyes beheld an atrocity.

The moment he registered the extent of the bruised and busted lips, he didn’t realize how he was affected by it until his chest began to hurt. Ryder was holding his breath without realizing it because of the sight he beheld. What shocked him most was the destruction evident by the blackened eye that was completely swollen shut.

One crystal clear-blue eye seared his soul as her tear-streaked face lingered on Ryder’s face as if no was even there. The sight mortified him making his stomach feel queasy. He could actually feel his heartbreak for the battered stranger in his arms.

Ryder believed some jerk was responsible for what had become of her. He imagined some asshole had beat her so severely he literally broke the woman’s will to live. Never had he witnessed anything so diabolical in his entire life. The only thing that raced through his mind over and over again was how could a man raise his hand to a woman.

“Did you drive yourself here?” She stared right through him. Nothing was left in the murky pools of the one unaffected eye as if no one was home. He looked down and saw white just as it rolled into the back of her head. Believing she was in real danger, he rushed her over to his truck and secured the seat belt to prevent her from falling out.

He looked down at her to find that the woman was once again peering at him with the one good eye. But again, there was nothing but blankness there. Ryder identified no emotion at all. Based on how she responded to him, he was sure she had already checked out.

To go back into the city at this time of the night would subject him personally to a mountain of questions from the authorities. If he had to endure that at this hour, he would absolutely lose his mind. Instead, he opted to call a doctor to take care of her needs. Ryder was sure in her current state she would pose no threat to anyone.

Even if she were in top shape, it would be hard for the plump little woman who appeared to be about a foot or so shorter than he was to take him down. At six-foot-six and two seventy-five, she didn’t pose a threat to him in any way.

When she collapsed on him, Ryder was taken by the way she clung. It was as if he was carrying a small child.

Once Ryder secured her in the passenger side of his truck, he made sure to turn on his hazard lights before he ran back across the bridge to what he believed was her car.

He grabbed the items sitting on the front seat, and after making sure there wasn’t a jacket or anything else in the back, he grabbed the car keys. Turning off the headlights, Ryder engaged the hazard lights and locked the doors before running back to where his truck was parked.

The few items held in his hand were placed in her purse and then the bag was placed on the seat next to his passenger.

She was silent and seemed to lack a sense of awareness even when the vehicle was shifted into drive. Once in motion, she looked right at him. The tears streaming down her face made it hard for him to focus on the road. Ryder was very much aware of the severity of the situation based on the woman’s physical condition.

Luckily for him, when he glanced at her from the corner of his eye, she appeared to have drifted off to sleep.

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