Joy opened her eyes, feeling slightly off-kilter for some reason. She was lying in their bed facing Daniel, who was still soundly sleeping. Suddenly awareness washed over her and she sat up abruptly in bed. The suddenness of her actions must have stirred Daniel.
“Joy, hon, what’s wrong?” He mumbled as sleep began to fall away from him.
Joy jumped out of the bed, jolted from a sudden dose of adrenalin. God had all of that happened yesterday? Feeling ready to panic, she felt Daniel’s strong arms come around her to hold her close.
“Joy, baby, it’s okay. It’s just us here, and you’re safe. Remember we were up during the night and then came back to bed where we both evidently fell asleep. Are you okay? Did you have a nightmare?” Daniel whispered in her ear, calming her down.
“No, no nightmare. I just woke up and then everything just hit me all of a sudden. It was such a horrible way to wake up. God, Daniel. I cannot believe this is all real.” Joy’s voice caught as she spoke.
“I guess in some ways that was worse than a nightmare for you. Today is not going to get much easier. Jeremy is coming over so you can tell him the story and he can give you some pointers before we meet with the detective this morning. You’ll need to contact Deanna Johnson today to get a therapist referral. The faster you can get that going the sooner you can start to heal.” Daniel ticked off the days’ agenda to Joy, who was quickly withdrawing into herself.
“Daniel, I don’t know how I am going to face Jeremy, much less all those other people. I can hardly bring myself to look at you.” Joy pulled away from Daniel as she spoke.
“Baby, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to overwhelm you. Look, let me go downstairs and start the coffee and I’ll be right back up to sit with you.” Daniel gave her arm a squeeze before he left.
I do not need to be sat with, like an invalid, thought Joy. I just need these thoughts to go away. Spying the bottle of pain killers on the dresser, she got them and took one out. So these kill pain? I have a boatload of pain I need gone. She went into the bathroom and swallowed down the pill using sink water. Just then Daniel came back into the bedroom.
“You know Daniel, I don’t want to sit around and mull over these thoughts. I’m going to take a brief shower and then go down to make some breakfast. You know how hungry Jeremy always is.” Joy turned the shower on as she spoke.
“Okay, well I’m going to sit right outside in the rocker while you get ready. Are you sure you’re okay?” Daniel looked at her quizzically.
“I really don’t know. My emotions seem to see-saw from one moment to the next.” She turned away from Daniel so he would leave before she would take of her gown and get into the shower. She had her hair piled high so she wouldn’t have to deal with it this morning. She felt sneaky taking that pill without Daniel knowing, but she didn’t know how else to cope with the anxiety right now. She would have to call her doctor later from some anti-anxiety medication.
She showered quickly and got out and toweled off. Donning a robe, she stepped into the bedroom to her walk-in closet to dress. She chose a cream silk sleeveless blouse and light woolen slacks to match. Adding some contrasting spectator pumps, her outfit was complete.
Sitting at her vanity, she quickly put her hair in a chic up-do. Looking at her neck without the bandage, she saw the stark black sutures with bruising around the laceration. She applied some concealer to the area so it wouldn’t be so obvious. She made her make-up very bare; mascara, a touch of blush, and lipstick. She did take the extra time to put concealer on the dark under eye circles.
Daniel was already showered and dressed by the time she finished, so they went down to the kitchen together. As Joy whipped ups some quick pancakes and sausage, Daniel poured their coffee, adding cream and sugar to hers.
“You’re awfully quiet, Joy. Can you tell me what has you so quiet?” Daniel handed her the coffee cup as she placed the food under a warmer plate until Jeremy got there.
“Daniel, how am I going to look all these people in the eye and recount that story? Just the thought of doing this has me cringing on the inside. I don’t even want you to hear it.” Joy said as she sipped her coffee.
“Joy there is not anything you can say that is going to change how I feel about you. I hold you in even higher esteem for holding yourself together as well as you are. The police have heard these stories many times before, so don’t let them concern you. And Jeremy is like a brother to you; he is going to have the same love and compassion he would show you no matter what. The rape counselor does this for a living; she is going to be a strong ally. So just take today one step at a time and you will make it through.” Daniel reached out to squeeze her arm as he spoke.
Just then, the doorbell rang. “That’ll be Jeremy; I’ll go get him.” Daniel got up to answer the door. Joy got up nervously and busied herself making a plate for both Daniel and Jeremy.
“Hey pretty lady, how’re doing?” Jeremy asked as he plated a peck on Joy’s cheek. He looked like his usual upscale lawyer look: snazzy suit, power blue tie, and his sandy blonde hair blown dried into perfection.
“I’m hanging in there Jeremy. Hope you’re hungry. I just set out breakfast for you two. If you’ll excuse me, I need to make a phone call.” Joy said without making eye contact and quickly leaving the room.
Moving to their formal living room, Joy placed a call to her private physician, Dr. Katz, a kindly older gentleman. She gave him a brief overview of what had happened and described her anxiety symptoms. Encouraging her to seek counseling, he told her he would call in a sedative for her and made her promise to call back if she didn’t get relief with the medication.
Joy made it back to the kitchen just as Jeremy was polishing off the rest of the pancakes. “Man, Joy. Your cooking makes me want to move in.”
“Glad you enjoyed everything, but I think your sloppiness would have me kicking you out within a week.” Joy said with a grin on her face.
“Good to see a smile on your face. Why don’t you sit down so you can go through the events of yesterday.” Jeremy said with his lawyer face.
Joy looked at Daniel and Jeremy anxiously. “Can’t you just read the police report? All the basic fact are in it.”
“Actually, I already got a copy of the report this morning and reviewed it. I just have a few questions that the police may ask and it would be good for you to have them clarified now rather than when you’re talking to them.” Jeremy said pointedly.
“Okay, what do you want to know?” Joy asked in a restrained voice.
“How did the perpetrator get you into that bathroom stall?”
Joy let out a sigh. “There were several groups of people moving around the locker room area where I was waiting for Daniel and Ben. While I was trying to move out of everyone’s way, the man grabbed my arm hard and pushed me toward the stall. I was already in it before I could react. When I did, he put the knife to my throat.”
“Okay Joy. I guess my main question is what were you doing standing so near the locker room?”
“I always wait right outside the locker room just in case Ben tries to come out before his dad. I was just trying to be a good mom and look out for my son.” Joy said resentfully.
“Joy, I am just trying to get the information straight; you know I am on you side, right?”
“Jeremy, this is just so damn hard. What else do you want to know?”
“That’s it for now. I am sorry for everything you are going through. I am hoping that we can talk with Detective Mullins and go through this once and then be done. The question of how he got you into the stall was the only area I could see where there may be some questioning.” Jeremy have her hand a squeeze.
As they got ready to leave for the police station, Joy could feel the calming effect of the pain killer. She went upstairs to get the bottle and put it in her purse. She wanted to keep the calming going on for all she was going to have to endure today.