Annalisa’s nerves were on edge as she wound her way through the busy downtown market. Since the madness with Anthony began, she dreaded dense crowds but it was time to take back her life. Maybe that day wasn’t the best day to grow a pair of balls…she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being watched. When she saw a lingering figure vaguely resembling Anthony, fear coursed through her blood.

Pint size, she barely made out Mrs. Greene standing at a stall haggling with a merchant through the mass of shoulders tossing her about. “Excuse me.” She pushed to no avail. Her eyes darted around searching for the ghostly figure she’d seen. It had to be him, no one else struck teeth chattering fear in her.

Suddenly, there was a blunt yet piercing pain in her back, a hand covering her mouth, and the smell of his cologne…and she found herself being forced through the crowd and into an awaiting car. One knock to the head and she was gone.

She came to, though time seemed to eclipse itself. Surely, someone missed her. Surely, someone was looking for her. But where? She didn’t even know where she was. It was a dark ratty vacant apartment with an inescapable smell of pungent furniture varnish. The only signs of life beyond the tattered walls were the sounds of children playing in the far distance.

She sat across the dinner table from him, swimming in only the dingy t-shirt bearing the evidence of his last attack. The sinister eyes of a predator stared back at her. The beautiful, kind and affectionate Black man she’d once loved was no more. In his place was a despotic cracked-out monster.

“Eat” he ordered.

She regarded the meal of franks and bean in front of her, and without lifting her gaze said, “I’m not hungry.” She didn’t have to look up to feel his anger rising. In a way she welcomed it—if he were going to kill her, she wanted him to get on with it. He’d done his worse: stripped her, raped her, beat her—broken her. Yet still, her fingers cradled the fork. She ate slowly, but she ate. Each mouthful was an effort under her swollen jaw.

The bowl caught on the uneven grain of the wood as she pushed it slightly away. Finished, she was unsure where to look. Her eyes flutter around the room, taking in all the details, before returning to stare at her hands daintily meshed together on the table.

She spoke, without looking up, words no louder than a whisper so faint that she can almost deny invoking them, “I want to go home, Anthony. Please let me go home. I won’t tell anyone what you’ve done.”

“What I’ve done?! What you made me do!” he stood and delivered a blow which left Annalisa sprawled on the cold tile floor, arms protectively above her head, her body clenched into a tight ball, sobbing. Kneeling on one knee, he loomed over her trembling body. His fist knotted tightly in her hair as he pulled her against him forcing her face up, focused solely on her eyes. “I’m not letting you go. You’re where I want you, bitch. Say it!”

She looked up, her eyes implored him to explain further, her lips moved but no sound escaped at first. Finally, timidly, “Say….what?”

“Tell me, you bitch, tell me where you belong.” She hesitated too long for his liking. He drew his hand back to strike and she cowered and raised hers protectively over her face. “Move your arm, Anna. Move it now or I’ll make this much worse than you can imagine.”

She obeyed and surrendered.

Annalisa awoke bolt straight in bed, gasping for air. Her night terrors were increasing with the frequency of Anthony’s calls and showing up on campus. It was obvious the restraining order meant nothing to him. She’d have to leave the Greene’s home if for no other reason than to protect them from Anthony’s wrath. There was nowhere left to turn, but to Scott.


The first ten homes the realtor, Lynette, showed Scott and Monica met with Scott’s searing disapproval. They were: Too close or too far away from downtown. Too old. Too new. Too small. Too large. They were always ‘too’ something. After day four, Monica wanted to strangle him and was only pacified when she realized his angst had more to do with his overprotective nature rather than him simply behaving like an asshole. She stood down and indulged him…allowed him to handle the ins and outs with the realtor…let him conduct a full fire inspection of the homes, anything to ease his mind because it wasn’t important enough to fight over. This was his transition of letting her go.

Then what? He thought peeked out over the vista from Cassé Hills. The bustling city below seemed miles away from the tranquility windy road, blooming gardens and fresh air on the hills. It was a planned gated community tucked into the hillside, no traffic to speak of and very little noise. Perfect. The house itself was California postmodern, typical four bedroom/three bathroom open floor plan, natural stone throughout, shimmering appliances.

“Monica, the furniture is included in the asking price.” The Lynette argued. “The house was owned but never lived in. Everything is brand new—never touched.”

“I don’t care. I’m not sleeping in someone else’s bed!” Monica shouted. “Scott?!”

Scott didn’t move from his position on the balcony and it wasn’t long before he was flanked by either woman pleading their case. As pushing them both down the hillside to their deaths wasn’t a reasonable option he feigned interest just long enough to form his own opinion. “Monica, you’re main objection is the bed. Fine, it goes but the rest stays.” He stated plainly and walked back to the house.

Lynette smiled smugly at Monica. They followed Scott. He saw them coming and rounded on them.

“Look, its nine month old custom-built, high-end furniture. You were planning to redecorate anyway and it fits your taste. It’ll cost you more to hire movers than it would to move in here as is.” He said. “Besides, there are women shelters in Atlanta that could use your belongings—you’d be helping someone get a fresh start just like you.”

Monica released a heavy sigh. “I sooo hate when you make sense.”

“I’ll have the seller deduct the prices of any pieces removed from the asking price. Hell, I’ll take them.” Lynette giggled, the clacking on her heels echoed off the walls as she left for the kitchen with the phone pressed to her ear.

“Thank you. I’m all nerves and being irrational.” Monica said.

“No problem. That’s why I’m here.” Scott took in the room then gazed at Monica. “So this is it, your new home.”

“Yeppers! This is it,” she passed him on the way up to the second level. “Nice huh? I picked it out myself.” She grinned over her shoulder. “This huge…new space will be all mine.” She gestured to the grandeur of the master suite and terrace before plopping down backward on the bed. “All mine.”

Scott lay beside her and stared up at the ceiling. “All yours.”

“You know, this bed ain’t half bad.”

“I knew you’d change your mind. It’s enormous.”

Monica rolled over and kissed Scott’s lips softly. “Can you imagine all of the naughty things we could do in it?” she kissed him again. “All of the kinky shit we could get into.”

“Oh yeah?” he tried to think of a more clever reply but it was best he could manage in sight of her boobs pushing over the ‘V’ in her shirt.

“Yeah,” she nibbled his ear. “We can play those games we used to play.”

“The Spanking Game?”

“Any game you’d like.”

They lie kissing until they were rudely interrupted by Lynette. “So you’ve decided to keep the bed then?” she laughed.


Joy went to Sharon and tried talking some sense into her. She rambled on for over an hour while Sharon stared at her blankly, never speaking a single word. Monica, the Fitz, and Cody tried but she wouldn’t speak to anyone. Her silence was her only weapon against her barrage of visitors and briefly broke when Monica offered to stay and take care of her.

“No. Go. I’ll be fine.” Sharon said softly, confident Monica would leave. It wasn’t as though she had a choice—business was business.