I Stood My Ground

Last summer, I ran into one of the men who sexually assaulted me.

I knew it was a matter of time. We live in the same town. We have mutual friends. The clock was ticking. I was mentally prepared.

I thought.

It was a Saturday. I’d spent all week writing  A Risky Prospect. He hadn’t been far from my mind while I wrote Olivia struggling through her own PTSD. Still, I hadn’t exactly been worried about running into him.

I drove to the store for a pack of cigarettes. As I got out of my car and headed in, he went inside. I thought he looked familiar from behind, but talked myself out of it. I see men who look like him all the time and initially panic, then realize they are someone else. When I got inside, he turned around.

It was him.

We stood 10 or 20 feet apart. He stared at me. I stared back.

I wanted to turn and walk right back out. But I wanted that pack of cigarettes even more—especially since there he stood, right in front of me for the first time in years.

The last time I saw him was at the wake of a mutual friend.

As we stared each other down, I remembered everything: his hands around my throat, the mess on my face, the quiet and numb ride home, how I cut all contact with him as soon as I got out of his car and into the safety of my home.

I also remembered the good things: how he was my first kiss, how we stood there in front of our high school, snow falling around us. How he’d give me his hoodie when I was cold. How he always said the right things, but I no longer believed him.

He stood there in the store, I stood there in the store. He looked like he wanted to say something—just like the night of the wake. Except this time, I didn’t turn and walk away.

He was the one to walk away.

I bought my cigarettes and I drove home.

Even as the flashbacks slammed into me, I was proud of myself. I stood my ground.

It was a huge step forward for me.

Author: Elizabeth Barone

Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist who writes contemporary romance and suspense starring strong belles who chose a different path in life. Her debut novel Sade on the Wall was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the South of Forever series and several other books. When not writing, Elizabeth is very busy getting her latest fix of Yankee Candle, spicy Doritos chips, or whatever TV show she’s currently binging. Elizabeth lives in northwestern Connecticut with her husband, a feisty little cat, and too many books.

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