He was going to have her no matter what.
Jill wrenched her arms from him. Using her elbow to push him off her, she bolted into the building. Racing up the stairs, she reached her door when he slammed her face forward into the wood. He caught her when she bounced off the door. With one hand over her mouth, he unbuttoned her pants. His fingernails raked their way into her soft flesh. While he jerked her pants down, and his own, Jill worked to get her key into the lock. Trevor was so lost in his lust he didn’t realize what she was doing.
Somehow, she managed to get the door open.
Scooter flew at Trevor. His bark brought Sarah from the living room couch. While Sarah lunged and barked, Scooter snapped at Trevor. Trevor screamed in pain and fury. He lunged at Scooter, but Sarah blocked his way.
When Trevor turned, he saw the hallway lined with neighbors. Jill’s next-door neighbor, Mr. Wilson, rushed Trevor with his baseball bat. Terrified, Trevor ran for the stairs. Scooter and Sarah chased him from the apartment building.
Everyone stood in stunned silence. Before anyone could say anything, Mike poked his head into the hallway from the stairs. Whistling for Scooter and Sarah, Mike sauntered toward Jill’s apartment. The dogs trotted up the stairs in answer to Mike’s whistle. Mike looked from Jill to Mr. Wilson. He put a hand on Mr. Wilson’s baseball bat.
“Nice to see you, Michael.”
With a nod, Mr. Wilson returned to his apartment.
“Trevor?” Mike slipped off his jacket and tied it around Jill’s waist to cover her bare behind, torn jeans and underwear.
“You okay? Spaced out?”
“No,” Jill said. “I’m here.”
“Huh,” Mike said.
He guided her into the apartment. Settling her on the couch, he went to get her a glass of water. When he returned, she was writing out her list on a pad of paper.
“For someone who was almost raped, you seem very … together,” Mike said.
“Raped? Oh, yeah, I guess so.” Jill flushed. “I should change. Ah, crap, my feet are bleeding.”
Getting up from the couch, she went into her bathroom. Mike helped her rebandage her feet, and then she went into her bedroom to change.
“Do you ever think things happen for a reason?” Jill asked from the bedroom.
Mike stood in her bedroom door.
“I stayed with Trevor, married him, even, because I thought he would never leave me. I wanted something permanent so I would never ever be alone. “
“Like after Mom and Dad died?”
Jill’s eyes welled with tears. She pulled a T-shirt over her head. Before she could pull on another pair of jeans, Mike pointed out the scratches on Jill’s lower back where Trevor’s fingernails had torn her flesh. She turned to give him a soft smile.
Speaking in a whisper, she said, “I knew he cheated, but I thought he needed me too much to ever leave. He was so demanding — I need this book, pay for my school, I want this car, make my dinner, fuck me now … I …”
Mike hugged his little sister.
“Then he left and took everything. Just like that. He’s gone. And … I didn’t die or fall apart or starve or … Every terror I lived with since I was nine years old, every single one, never happened. None of them. I … I realize that I’m a lot stronger than I thought.”
“You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met,” Mike said.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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