Ada: Episode 10 (The Final Episode)

Ada hesitated a moment before she turned the key to her front door. She leaned into the solid wood and it creaked open and popped as if it had been sealed for the past three months. An odor, old and dusty like an attic, hit her immediately, and she crinkled her nose as if she were going to sneeze, but nothing came of it. She dragged her two suit cases onto the foyer as she glanced behind her into the wet street in front of her house. Rain drops glared in the dull afternoon light. She looked at Ms. Keller’s door across the street, and memories rushed back. She shook them from her head and shut the door.

Her fusty, old townhome smelled like it did when she had first purchased it a few years ago. She had bought it from an elderly man’s estate. He had lived in it for two decades, but it had largely been abandoned for the last few months of his life as he slipped into and out of hospitals and nursing homes. When she first moved in, her father had helped her rip up carpets, paint, and clean the place to make it her own, but now, those old familiar smells had come back like ghosts emerging from the floorboards. She realized she could never really remove someone from the space they had once occupied. However, it was her space now, and she was glad to be back no matter how decrepit it smelled.

She glided along the back wall of her living room and opened the blinds again for the first time since she had left all of it behind. The gloomy day peered at her through the large rain drops that dotted her windows. She surveyed her backyard and the soupy mess that it was. The feeble grass was overtaken by mud. She shook her head in disdain. She’d deal with that once spring returned, but for now she would ignore it.

A car revved its engine suddenly out on the street disturbing the eerie quiet that had consumed her since she had shut her front door. Ada gasped and spun around toward the invisible street with hairs prickling her neck until she realized the source of the harsh noise. It took a moment for her brain to process it. Despite the clarity of her decision to return home against her parents’ wishes, conflicting thoughts and emotions clouded her mind like she was swimming in a vat of cooking oil. It took an extra step or two to make sense of things.

Although she tried to suppress all thoughts of him, Shane percolated in her mind again. Being back at the scene where he had attacked her made it inevitable. She had thought that the space of three months, a pending trial, and a restraining order would help her erase all of those bad memories, but being in her kitchen only made them more vivid, oppressive, and frightening like she was reliving that awful moment. She sighed in defeat before she busied herself with emptying her suitcases and starting a load of laundry.

Getting her life back to normal would be the first step in regaining control. She would thrive in the mundane. She couldn’t live with her parents forever no matter how much they begged her to stay. Commuting into the city everyday from her parents’ house had become a major chore and stressor. She had longed to be back to where she was before Shane ever waltzed into her life. She couldn’t wait until he was convicted and behind bars, but he legal system wasn’t expedient.

The sound of her washer rumbling in her hallway laundry room made her feel good in a strange way. Maybe it was the normalcy of it all. For much of the past three months, her mother had cooked wonderful dinners and fed her like a queen, but on her first night back, she didn’t miss those big meals. She just wanted something simple like a bowl of cereal and maybe some yogurt. Nothing could be more normal for her than a hastily prepared meal before the glow of the TV in her very own living room.

As she poured milk onto the crunchy cereal, she heard the rain beating against her windows. It had rained for days off and on, battering the colorful leaves that clung to the trees for the last gasp of fall. The weather had made her transition back to her usual life gloomy and foreboding. She should have been happy. Instead, she felt more alone than ever. She missed having her parents around for conversation even if their doting had driven her mad, but mostly, she missed talking to Jenny.

In the chaos of the attack and the police involvement, Jenny had been a steadfast supporter, but as the weeks went by, and Ada had moved outside the city to stay with her parents, their conversations became less frequent. Ada knew that Jenny had a new boyfriend and that he had consumed more and more of her time, but she didn’t expect Jenny to just drop out of her life so suddenly. They’d been the best of friends since their freshman year in college together, and the past few weeks had been the longest time since then that they’d gone without much conversation beyond a few text messages.

Ada decided to call Jenny once she finished dinner. Maybe catching up with her best friend was what she needed to make her feel better. She sat back on her couch and watched TV as she ate her cereal. The encroaching darkness outside made the glow of the TV seem surreal. She looked back over her shoulder into her backyard. The light from a street lamp sagged in the damp air adding to the dreariness of the night. The washer shut off with a loud click, and silence fell over the room again except for the soft hum of the TV. She had put the volume on a low setting while she read through emails on her phone from the comfort of her couch.

She was engrossed in an email from her mother when the doorbell rang. She jumped when the flighty tone broke the silence that had engulfed her. At first, she hesitated. No one knew she was back at home except her parents. She began to shake a little for fear of what she might find, but nevertheless, she crept to the door and placed her eye onto the peep hole. Jenny stood on the other side oddly proportioned in the fish-eye view of the peep hole.

Ada smiled and opened the door. “Jen! What are you doing here?” she asked, happy and surprised at the same time. Ada reached out and the best friends hugged tightly. When Ada let her go and she stepped back, Jenny smiled nervously, oddly out of character for her given that she had not seen her friend in several weeks.

“I thought I’d come by and catch up with you. It’s been a while,” she said shifting in place and glancing around her as if she were afraid someone was spying on them.

Ada, in her excitement, noticed none of this. She was simply happy to see her friend after such a long, stressful time away. Ada stood back and pushed the door open wider as she waved her friend inside. Jenny took a hesitant first step and then walked through the foyer toward her sparsely lit kitchen. The living room glowed in the silence of the TV and a single recessed light shined in the kitchen above the sink.

“Why do you have it so dark in here?” Jenny asked. The stark darkness made her nervous.

“I haven’t replaced the lamp yet,” Ada said pointing to the blank space on the end table near her couch. She reached over and flipped on the kitchen light, and both the kitchen and the living room brightened instantly. “Is that better?”

“Yes, much better,” Jenny said smiling wanly at her friend.

“How’d you know I was back here?” Ada asked. She was happy to see Jenny, but she was genuinely perplexed.

Jenny pulled her iPhone from her pocket and waved it in the air between them. “Remember, the ‘find friends’ feature?”

“Oh, I forgot we did that.” Ada laughed.

“How have you been?” Jenny asked as she took a seat at the tiny table on the edge of the kitchen.

Ada sat down opposite her. “As good as can be expected. Exhausted really. Commuting between work and my parents’ house was a nightmare. I’m so glad to get back home so that I can take the train again.”

“I wondered how you were managing that. I couldn’t do that commute.” Jenny seemed distracted as if she wanted to say something but couldn’t determine how to say it.

“So tell me about your new boyfriend,” Ada demanded. She wanted to hear some good news for a change. She wanted to get back to where she and Jenny were before Shane.

“How’d you know about that?” Jenny had a look of surprise on her face.

“Your text message from a few weeks ago.”

“Oh, it’s been so long since we last spoke, I had forgotten I told you.”

“I guess he’s a real keeper since you haven’t been in touch much lately.”

“Yes, he’s wonderful.” Jenny didn’t seemed convinced of what she said.

Ada sensed something was bothering her. “Are you okay?”

“Yes…” Words hung in the air between them. Jenny stared at her and then looked away before she said, “Are you going through with the charges against Shane?”

Ada was confused and taken aback by her sudden question. Her brow furrowed and her lips dropped into a small frown. “Of course. Why would you ask that?”

“I was just wondering. It’s been a few months, and you’ve had time to think about what happened. I didn’t know if you’ve changed your mind.”

“Why would I change my mind about someone who attacked me?” Ada almost sneered as she asked the question. She didn’t mean to be so defensive, but the question conjured up many bad memories that she wished to forget. The sudden surge of emotion almost overwhelmed her.

Jenny stiffened and looked away. Silence did nothing to divert Ada’s stare. Ada trembled a little. The subject brought back a flood of bad memories. “What’s going on, Jen?”

Jenny returned her gaze to Ada. “I just think we all overreacted. That’s all.”

“Overreacted? About Shane? How can you say that now? You were the one who practically dragged me down to the police station to file charges. You were the one who said he deserved to be in jail. The man’s a psychopath.” Ada’s voice rose with each successive word. She was clearly agitated. She looked away, and Jenny could see her eyes glistening in the light.

“We all have our issues, Ada. I don’t know why you can’t see that.” Jenny shook her head slowly. She feared losing control of the conversation. It was not proceeding as she had practiced in her mind. She had hoped that time and reason would persuade her friend to reconsider the charges, but now, her friend was overcome with emotion. Her plans disintegrated once the first sob escaped Ada.

“Ada, I’m sorry,” Jenny said.

“I think you should leave,” Ada said between sobs. The questions, the conversation, all of it were too much, too soon.

“Ada…”

“Please!”

“Ada, I’m just trying to help you.”

“Help me? How is this helping me?”

“If you go through with this, you’ll be making a huge mistake.”

“What? How?” Ada’s voice reached a high-pitched strain as she became exasperated by Jenny’s inscrutable turnabout. Jenny looked away as if the spotlight of Ada’s attention blinded her.

“How, Jenny? Tell me!” Ada seemed angry now.

“Calm down, Ada.”

Ada stood up violently. Her thighs struck the table and shook it between them. Jenny sat back to avoid the table punching her in the ribs. She looked up at her friend, seemingly frightened by the tension between them.

“I think you should go,” Ada said sternly.

“Ada…”

“I’m not dropping the charges. I hope he rots in jail!”

“Ada…”

“Go…please!” Ada raised her voice and pointed to the door.

Jenny froze for a moment, and then her face blanked of all emotion before she stomped past Ada and down the hall toward the front door. Without another word, she left slamming the door behind her.

Ada waited a moment before she followed the same path and bolted the door. She shuffled back into the kitchen and flipped off the light so that her room returned to the dim glow she had enjoyed before Jenny had knocked on her door. Her hands shook and she felt tears welling in her eyes, but she pressed them back with the tips of her fingers. Her flashing anger refused to let her cry anymore.

She took one step toward her couch before she noticed someone standing at her back door looking in at her. She jumped and caught her breath before she realized who it was.

“What are you doing back there?” Ada screamed through the door.

“Let me in…please.”

“No! Go home! I don’t want to talk to you!”

The door knob rattled against the lock.

“Ada…I’m sorry…please…”

Ada was still shaking from her encounter with Jenny and she remained frozen in place. Her mind raced trying to find something that would calm her down. She looked down at Jenny’s shoes on the other side of the glass door.

“You’re getting mud all over your shoes out there. My yard is a mess.” She shook her head in disapproval as she opened the door for her best friend.

“Let me get you a towel,” Ada said as if she were scolding her friend.

Jenny stepped into the kitchen and stood near the door as she watched Ada disappear into a closet on the other side of the room in search of a towel to clean her muddy shoes. She stood on the edge of the bright circle of light provided by the single bulb that burned in the kitchen. The muted TV glowed behind her. The dim light encouraged her. She took two steps to the kitchen counter and stood stiffly waiting for Ada to emerge from the closet.

Ada mumbled to herself behind the half-opened closet door until she found an old towel worthy of cleaning muddy shoes. She pivoted and stepped back into the kitchen shutting the door behind her.

“What are you doing?” she asked Jenny, perplexed by what she saw. A look of concern stiffened her face.

Jenny shook her head. “I can’t let you do it.”

“Do what?”

“Go through with the trial.”

Ada was confused. “Shane’s trial?”

“Yes.”

“Why do you care?” A million little thoughts careened through Ada’s mind like an endless box of mismatched puzzle pieces.

“Because I love him.”

Ada stumbled back and almost hit the door behind her. She couldn’t believe what she heard, but the look on Jenny’s face said it all. Her friend was possessed. She took a few hitched breaths and all she could say was “Shane?”

“Yes. I knew you wouldn’t understand.” Jenny took a step toward Ada. The kitchen knife gleamed in the lone light.

“Jenny, think about what you’re doing.” Ada backed into the door behind her as Jenny took one and then two steps to close the gap between them. Jenny tried to jab the knife in Ada’s chest, but Ada deflected her advance and the knife pointed straight up jostling between the two women like a hard-won trophy. Ada screamed and Jenny thrust her shoulder into her to shut her up.

The struggle seemed evenly matched as they fought each other in a tight space until Ada kicked at Jenny and pushed her across the room. The knife flew out of her hand and skittered across the floor in a hideous metallic scrape. Jenny fell on her butt. The knife came to a stop across the kitchen well out of her reach.

She sneered at Ada, out of breath. “I can’t let you destroy Shane! You’re nothing but a spoiled, ungrateful bitch! He’s too good for you!”

Ada, also breathing heavily from the struggle and bent over at the waist, started, “Jenny…what…are you talking about?”

Before Ada could say another word, Jenny thrust herself up and grabbed another knife from the butcher’s block on the kitchen counter and charged Ada. It all happened slowly for Ada as she tried to straighten up and evade Jenny, but her body didn’t move as fast as her mind had. Jenny thrust the knife downward and landed it into the thick flesh of her neck gashing her jugular vein. Ada stood upright in shock as Jenny pulled the knife out and stood in front of her.

Ada collapsed to the floor gasping in pain, but she kept her bewildered eyes on her friend. Her last thoughts were that she would wake up from this awful nightmare very soon. Jenny stepped around Ada and grabbed the towel she had retrieved from the closet. She wiped the knife clean and put it back in the butcher’s block carefully wiping the handle as she did. She stuffed the towel in the front pocket of her hoodie and then put her hood up. She stood for a moment on the edge of the light that encircled the kitchen and watched Ada take her last jagged breath before she opened the back door and disappeared into the yawn of the dark, rainy night.

Ada: Episode 8

“I enjoyed tonight.” Shane said as he stood in the foyer just inside the door to her townhome. They had spent the evening together eating Chinese take-out and watching Titanic, one of Ada’s all-time favorite movies.

Ada smiled. “I enjoyed it, too. This was very nice.” She struggled to contain her giddiness as Shane leaned in to kiss her. His lips were warm but rough and she momentarily lost herself in the kiss. He pulled her into him and she could feel the solid muscles of his arms around her, this big hands on her back. Desire pulsed through her amplifying her heart beat, but she knew that she had to take it slow.

He pulled away but kept his arms wrapped around her shoulders. He looked into her eyes and smiled. The warmth of his smile and his piercing blue eyes almost melted her resolve.

“Are you sure I can’t stay?” he asked. Ada hesitated for just a moment, and he sensed the possibility, an opening. “Just tonight. To see how it goes.”

Ada wavered but then snapped into the present. The words wouldn’t come out of her mouth and then: “Let’s…let’s take it slow…okay.”

Disappointment clearly registered on his face, and Ada thought she could see darts fly from his eyes, but he mustered a smile. He looked away for the briefest moment as if to gather himself, to stem the tide of annoyance. “Okay. Whatever you want. I want you to be comfortable.”

She subconsciously sighed in relief although his words and his visible emotions, however slight, were in conflict. “Thank you,” she said before she stepped into him and kissed him softly on the lips again.

The kiss seemed to relax him, but Ada noticed a tenseness in his body. It had become more rigid than it had been when he first leaned in to kiss her. She tried to process the signal in her mind, but his swoon-inducing attention distracted her.

“I’ll meet you for lunch tomorrow?”

“Yes. At the Cantina in downtown.”

“I can’t wait.”

Ada smiled. She loved his enthusiasm. “Me neither.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

Unspoken words hung in the air between them before Shane turned and opened the door. Ada watched him walk away and disappear into the haze of the night before she closed and locked her front door.

She let out a long audible breath and smiled to herself. The date, their first since went back to him, had gone remarkably well. He was, once again, the prince charming she had met over a year ago. He listened to her and was genuinely interested in how her day had gone and what she had to say. Gone was the bravado about his latest work conquest and the stern rebuke for things he had no interest in. She thought he had truly learned his lesson in their separation.

Despite his about face, she was glad she had decided to move back into her townhouse. She needed her own space to sort through her feelings and ensure that this was the right relationship for her. Living with him was too much pressure. She had been lucky that she had not sold her townhome as Shane had advised when she had moved in with him.

She walked into her living room, which was sparsely lit by the lone lamp on the end table. Her reflection in the windows that looked out onto her small backyard reminded her to lower the blinds, which she did, but she left them partially open so that the morning light would flood her living room. She loved how bright it was in the morning. The glow made her feel alive, and she longed for that comforting moment. She needed it.

She sat down on her couch and lay back on a soft pillow before she remembered that she had promised to call Jenny after her date ended. She grabbed her cell phone from the coffee table and danced her thumb across the screen to select Jenny’s number. The phone rang once or twice before Jenny answered.

“Hi Jen!” Ada said. Her voice was bubbly yet confident.

“How’d it go?”

“Wonderful. He was an absolute prince.”

“Really?”

“Don’t be so skeptical. He was.”

Jenny sighed as if she were irritated at the prospect of being wrong, but her voice conveyed that she doubted that was the case.

“Ada, I want you to be happy. I really do, but I just don’t believe he’s the guy. I don’t care what he does on one date on one night. Eventually, he’s going to relapse to who he really is.”

Ada shook her head with the phone still on her ear. “Jen, you have to give him a chance. I think he has truly realized that he has a problem and that he needs help. We even talked about seeing a counselor tonight.”

“He agreed to it?”

“No, we talked about it as one of the options to get us back on track.”

Jenny retained her position of disbelief but humored her friend as she recounted the details of the date. She had run out of advice to give to Ada. She had advised against getting back with Shane, and Ada had done it anyway. At least Ada moved back to her place rather than to Shane’s. That was one victory she could claim in this tug-of-war with her friend.

“What do you think?” Ada asked. Expectation poured from her voice.

“I think you should be very careful.”

Ada whined into the phone.

“I’m sorry, Ada, but I’m still very worried. This one night doesn’t change everything. It can’t. Give it time. Please.”

“I will. It’s not like I’m moving back in with him anytime soon.”

“Did he say anything about that?”

“He started to, but I put the kibosh on it quickly. He knows I’m staying here for the foreseeable future.”

“Good.”

Jenny seemed placated and they moved on to other topics of interest between them. Before Ada knew it almost an hour had passed. She frequently lost herself in conversations with her best friend.

“Well, I should get going.”

“Thanks for calling. I’m glad it went well.”

“Thanks, Jen. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Ada clicked off her cell phone and walked over to her kitchen counter to put it on its charger. Suddenly, some motion in her peripheral vision distracted her. She peered through the blinds into her backyard, but there was nothing to be seen. She opened the blinds wider to get a better view, but the reflected light from the small lamp obscured a clear view of the yard.

Her hands trembled a little as her eyes had certainly seen some movement just a moment ago. The hairs on her neck stood on end and her mouth suddenly went dry. She turned off the lamp to get a full view of her yard in the darkness. She swallowed hard as she scanned the tiny lot. Nothing.

A sudden knock at the front door startled her so much that she struck the lamp and pushed it off the table. The bulb crashed into the floor and shattered into a thousand pieces. She screamed. Another knock. This one was harder and more urgent.

On shaky legs, Ada walked, really wobbled, to her front door and squinted into the peep hole. Shane stood outside her door his brows arched in concern. Or was it anger? Ada struggled to unlatch the chain and flip open the deadbolt.

“Shane? What are you doing here? You scared me.”

“What were you doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“I heard you scream.”

“Your knock caught me off guard. I didn’t expect anyone here at this time of night.”

“What did you do after I left?”

“What?”

“After I left an hour ago. What did you do?”

“Nothing. I’ve been here the whole time.” Ada was puzzled by his question. He seemed bothered, irate even.

“So you did nothing? No TV? No phone calls?”

Ada’s defenses went up. She felt like she was being interrogated, and for a moment she glimpsed the past when Shane had been so controlling that she felt like she couldn’t breathe. She resented that feeling.

“I was just relaxing on the couch reading a book before bed, Shane, if you must know. Why are you doing this?” She was unfazed by her own lie, but she refused to acquiesce to Shane’s overbearing nature.

“If this is going to work, I have to trust you. This isn’t just about me. It’s about us.”

“I know that.”

Shane looked at her intently as if he were waiting on her to confess something. “I’ll keep working at this, Ada, but I have to trust you.”

“Okay.” Ada looked frightened, but she tried to repose herself in a confident way as she stood before him.

Finally, his stare relented and his face softened just a little bit. “Good night, Ada.”

“Good night.”

Ada quickly shut and locked the door in the dimly lit hallway. She saw the lamp leaning into the floor and rushed back to clean it up, but before she grabbed the dust pan and broom from her pantry, she closed all of the blinds tightly peering into the backyard ever so briefly as she did so.

Ada: Episode 7

Ada looked at her phone and the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Before she could even click the “ignore” button, Jenny waved her hand over the phone and covered the screen. “Don’t answer it,” she said.

“I’m not.”

“You looked like you wanted to.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You did. You should change your number.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“Everyone I know has that number. It’s been my number since college.”

“You can always email everyone you want to have the number and let them know you changed it.”

“No.” Ada shook her head as if Jenny were her mom asking her to eat her least favorite vegetable. Ada looked wistful, and for a moment Jenny felt bad for chastising her best friend.

“Ada, I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see you get hurt again.” Jenny looked up at the scar on Ada’s forehead. It had healed after several weeks, but a subtle line reminded her of the violence her friend had experienced. “He’s crazy, and he’ll never change. You should have gone to the police.”

Ada shook her head fervently. “No. We were drunk and things just got out of control. It was my fault for antagonizing him…”

“It was never ‘your fault,’ Ada! Why would you even think that? Why are you apologizing for that asshole?” Jenny’s anger flushed her face. Her eyes darted at Ada as if she too wanted to strike her.

Ada moved her lips as if to say something, but no words came out. Her eyes wavered and she withdrew into the overwhelming emotion. Tears began to stream down her cheeks. “I don’t know…,” she choked on her tears and her voice cracked as she inhaled.

Jenny instantly felt bad for raising her voice with Ada. She sighed as if comforting a small child and stepped into to hug Ada as a few tears began to trickle down her cheeks. Jenny remained quiet letting her friend get it out.

It had been like this for the past two weeks since Ada had finally garnered the courage to move out of Shane’s house. She still had her townhome in the city, but she had moved in with Jenny for the time being. She feared being alone at the moment, but she mostly needed Jenny’s companionship and understanding. Despite all of the horrible things Shane had done to her, leaving him was difficult. His pleas and promises to change didn’t make it any easier. She really wanted to believe him.

“I don’t know,” Ada started, “I just feel like that he was my last chance at love. I know that sounds weird, but there were a lot of good things about him.”

“Why would this be your last chance? You’re thirty, not sixty. I guess I don’t see the good things. He treated you like shit. Yeah, he has money and you lived like a queen, but is it worth your dignity?”

“It was more than money, Jenny. He was passionate and he had a vulnerable side.”

“He was a drunk abuser and that trumps everything else.”

“You don’t understand.”

“You’re right. I don’t. This guy wanted to control you completely. When you didn’t do what he told you, he beat the shit out of you and almost killed you. I could never understand why you’d even consider taking him back no matter what he promised you.”

Ada became visibly frustrated with her friend. She flicked the screen on her phone and pulled up her voicemail. “Listen to the voicemail he left me a couple of days ago,” she said holding the phone out to Jenny.

“No, I don’t need to. I bet I can guess what he said.”

“No, you can’t. You don’t really know him.”

Jenny sighed. “I’ll bet the gist of his message is that he loves you, he’s sorry, and that he’ll never do it again. He probably threw in some sob story about his upbringing and how he can’t control his emotions about you.”

Ada looked defiant. “He had a good upbringing.”

Jenny smirked. She stared at her friend who still held the phone out to her. “I’m not listening to that damn message.”

“I think he’s learned his lesson.”

“Seriously? How many times has he hit you other than the incident at the hotel?”

“That was the only time things got out of control. Every other time we were both fighting very physically. I hit him, too.”

“He outweighs you by at least a hundred pounds. I don’t think he needs to hit you to defend himself.”

“That’s not the point. We’re both passionate people.”

Jenny’s frustration with her friend grew. She could feel the momentum shifting toward forgiveness, forgetting, and she wanted to scream at Ada with all her might to make her realize the error of her ways. She had comforted Ada every day since she had moved in with her and had actively worked to build her confidence to walk away from that monster, and now, she seemed to be sliding into old habits, old ways of thinking.

“Ada, please, listen to yourself. Think about what you’re saying.”

“I am thinking.”

“No, you’re not. You’re putting yourself in grave danger.”

“He really loves me. I’m all he thinks about. He said he’s not the same without me, and that he regrets the day he struck me. He’s very sorry. He says I’ve taught him a valuable lesson and that he’ll make it up to me.” Ada waved the phone before her as if to tease Jenny with the proof in her hand.

“You’ve talked to him?”

“No, that’s what he says in this message.” Ada gestured with the phone toward Jenny, but Jenny waved it off again.

“I don’t think you can believe what he says.”

“I should call him and give him the chance to talk to me.”

“No. You’ll regret it.”

“How do you know that? You haven’t heard how remorseful he sounds in this message. It sounds like he’s been crying.”

“Good! That asshole needs to cry a whole lot of tears to make amends to you. Even then I don’t think it’s enough.”

“I need to give him a chance.”

“No, you don’t,” Jenny retorted. Her frustration boiled over. “Why did you move in with me? Why did you drag me into this if all you’re going to do is go running back to him because he leaves you some weepy message on your phone? Why, Ada?”

Ada peered at Jenny with a sulky expression and absently set her phone on her thigh. She knotted her hands together. “I just thought we needed some time apart to make it clear how we felt about each other.” Her voice was shaky and fraught with emotion.

“So this was some kind of love experiment?” Jenny was on a roll and barely acknowledged her friend’s fragile state. “The guy almost kills you and you want some time apart to determine how you feel about each other. This makes absolutely no sense, Ada. None whatsoever.”

Jenny looked at her with disgust. She wore her annoyance on her face. Her voice seethed with it. She stood up from the table next to Ada.

“Ada, you know I love you. I will do anything to help you, but I’m not going to sit by and let you run back to Shane like some lost puppy. I’m afraid that if you go back to him, you wont make it out again. He’s going to kill you next time.”

“Don’t be melodramatic, Jenny. Shane doesn’t have it in him to kill someone. He’s not some mercenary or thug.”

Jenny started to say something but clamped her mouth shut. She leaned down and hugged Ada. “I’ve said my part, Ada. That’s all I can say.”

She pulled away from Ada and walked away down the hall toward her bedroom. Ada watched her leave, and after she disappeared behind the door of her bedroom, Ada grabbed the phone resting on her thigh and clutched it in her left hand. She stared at the screen for a moment and flicked it open with her thumb. The voicemail hung at the top of her screen. She flipped to the recent calls screen and stared at the list of numbers. All of them were from Shane.

Her finger hovered for a moment over his most recent call. She looked down the hall for any signs of Jenny. Then, she pressed the number. She held the phone to her ear and listened to the rings until Shane answered.

Ada: Episode 6

Ada leaned into the locked bathroom door as if her slight body weight would reinforce the two inches of solid wood that stood between her and Shane. He pounded on the door relentlessly thumping the thick door like a jackhammer on the sidewalk down below their hotel room.

“Open the fucking door, Ada!” he screamed after he had beaten on the door for what seemed like minutes. He held his fist in the other hand to ease the pain the wood had caused.

“Not until you calm down!” she yelled through tears and tremors that rocked her rigid frame. She wiped the tears from her reddened face with the back of her free hand and fingered the screen of her cell phone with the other frantically searching for Jenny’s number.

In that instant, she regretted cutting Jenny out of her life. She scrolled through the history on her phone and had scrolled two months back before she found Jenny’s number. It was a Sunday back in May the last time she had talked to Jenny. Actually, Jenny had called her wondering why she hadn’t called or dropped by to see her. Ada had made an excuse about being busy at work and traveling with Shane to dismiss her concerns. She had promised to get back in touch with Jenny once her life settled down a bit, but she hadn’t called her again. She couldn’t.

She had abided by Shane’s wishes if only to keep the peace between them. She had to give their relationship a chance. She was sure Jenny would understand, just as she would had their roles been reversed, but now, she needed Jenny more than ever.

“Ada, if you don’t open that door, I’m going to kick the fucking thing in and when I get in there, you’ll regret it! I fucking promise you that! Now, open the goddamn door!”

Ada’s trembling thumb hovered over Jenny’s number for the briefest of moments before she pressed it so hard she thought her phone’s screen would cave. She put the phone to her ear and tried to hold it steady so that she could hear, but the beating on the door and her shaky hand made it difficult. The phone rang once and twice. Ada’s spirit collapsed when it rang a third and fourth time before Jenny’s voicemail came on.

She cried a little harder when she heard Jenny’s voice. She should have listened to her best friend. She should have left Shane when she had the chance. Why did she let this crazy man stay in her life?

She clicked the screen to end the call and the phone slipped from her hand hitting the tile floor with a sickening crack that reverberated at her feet. She could barely see the silvery rectangle through the tears that poured from her eyes, but as she bent down to retrieve it, her worst fears were confirmed. The screen had fractured in a hundred places. She poked it to see if it responded to touch, but it just blinked at her, unresponsive.

Ada froze in that short moment before Shane burst through the door as if she knew what was going to happen and was trying to steel herself for it. She stood up and faced the door just as it cracked open from the force of a violent kick revealing an enraged madman who intended to do her harm. He closed the gap between them at a frightening pace and clamped her shoulders tightly in his big hands. His grip sent shockwaves of pain through her arms. Tears muddled her vision, but her body flagged as if slackening her muscles would help her absorb the blows.

“I told you to open the goddamn door! You will do as I tell you! Do you understand?” Spittle flew from his mouth. His eyes were dark and ominous as his lips flared around his scissor-like teeth. He bore no resemblance to the handsome man she had fallen for that night they first met. First appearances are rarely true deep-down and that irony flailed her at that very moment.

Ada wavered. Shane’s grip was the only thing that kept her upright. She was too stunned to respond, but she did wonder how her little comment had gotten so out of control.

Shane took her lack of response to be another act of defiance. He whipsawed his right arm back and brought it forward with a fierce speed and force that knocked Ada off her feet and into the toilet behind her. Her head clunked on the shiny porcelain and bright red blood splattered on its white surface. Her head lingered on the toilet for just a moment before her body fell haplessly to the floor next to it.

Shane huffed in anger as he stared at her motionless on the floor. He didn’t seem the least concerned for her, but he shook his hand at it ached from the impact with her jaw.

“Stupid bitch!” He shook his hand once or twice to ward off the pain and then walked out of the bathroom. He flung himself on the bed and resumed watching TV.

He waited for her to get up, but she showed no sign of movement. “Get up! You’re fine! Stop being a baby!” He muted the TV after a moment and peered into the bathroom from the bed. “Ada!”

The damage to the bathroom door distracted him, and he wondered how he’d explain it to the hotel. He’d have to pay extra to keep it quiet, and that irritated him more. He’d lost his temper more than once in expensive hotels and it had always cost him dearly.

After a moment of further silence, his chest no longer heaved and his heart didn’t feel like it was trying to escape from his rib cage. More minutes passed and his anger evaporated. The realization of what he’d done hit him, not in a sense of concern but of regret for letting Ada rile him as she had done. The woman just wouldn’t learn.

Without a word, he stomped into the bathroom to check on her. “Ada,” he said more kindly. Still no response. He put his finger on her neck and then touched her back with his palm. She had a pulse and was breathing. Even though he was still irritated, he felt relieved. He rolled her over on her back and her head thumped on the floor. He flinched. A small pool of blood had formed on the floor and her jaw seemed displaced. He could see the bruise forming, and her eyes had heavy bags under them. This fight wasn’t going to be easy to disguise like the others they’d had. These marks were obvious to even the most oblivious observers.

Shane tried to bring Ada to, but she didn’t respond. Finally, he bent down and picked her up and carried her to their bed. He propped her up on some pillows and went back to the bathroom to get a warm, wet towel to address the bleeding. As he stepped onto the tile floor, he kicked something with his foot, and it spun across the floor coming to a stop at the base of the sink. He bent down to retrieve the slippery object and realized it was Ada’s phone. He flipped it over and glanced at the cracked screen. When he saw Jenny’s number beneath the spider web of glass, he became angry again and slammed the phone into the wastebasket near the sink. The glass shattered and the aluminum ricocheted in the bin mocking his anger.

He grabbed a wash cloth from the edge of the sink and crumpled it in his fist as he held it under the warming water. He’d talk to her about it later, but now, he had to address her injury. She remained unconscious when he returned to her side. He shook his head and sat down next to her with the wash cloth in hand. He roughly washed the gash on her forehead and mumbled to himself with an anger that still seethed beneath his new-found concern. The celebration of a year since they had met had not gone well.

Ada: Episode 5

The three of them sat around the modular couch that filled most of Shane’s living room. Jenny sat close to Ada despite the vast sitting space that surrounded them, while Shane spread himself out in the center of the soft leather cushions. A large-screen TV recessed into the only solid wall around them. The rest of the walls were clear, floor-to-ceiling glass that overlooked the city below. Shane’s house was amazing. It clung to the top of the hill above the city like some cartoonish abode barely attached to the earth that supported it. The winding road leading to the gates of his estate, and anyone who saw it would call it an estate, not just a home, offered breath-taking views of the city on a clear day even when Shane revved the engine of his car and gunned it through each hair-pin turn.

When they had first met, Shane had bragged endlessly about the private equity work he did, but Ada neither understood it nor really listened. Men she met in bars routinely boasted about their work to her, but she’d grown immune to it. She thought it was just their way of trying to entice her interest in them. Little did they know that the money or careers seldom made them attractive in her eyes. Not that she was prone to ignore it. It just wasn’t a primary factor for her.

The first time Shane took her to his house she spent half the time with her mouth agape. From the long private drive up the side of the hill above the city to the expansive steppe gardens that flowed down the hill from his patio, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. It was like an episode of Cribs had sprung to life around her. Every room seemed as big as her tiny townhome in the city with its fenced, postage-stamp-sized backyard. She loved her townhome and felt immense pride in the fact that she’d bought it herself, but it felt so small and insignificant in the shadow of Shane’s hillside mansion.

Likewise, Jenny, who is effusive on a bad day, was rendered speechless as Ada gave her a tour of her new home. Ada had only lived there for a couple of weeks and she still got turned around in the cavernous and numerous hallways, but she managed to give Jenny a whirlwind tour that ended with them sitting on the couch near Shane praising his home with superlatives as they sipped expensive wine from crystal glasses. He pretended to be engrossed in the TV, but he silently listened to Ada’s praises and almost burst with pride as he was prone to do.

In a moment of giddiness, Shane proposed a toast to “our lives together” as he looked into Ada’s eyes. She smiled and Jenny giggled as the glasses clinked. All three of them leaned back into the leather cushions sipping their drinks. The voluptuous red wine relieved them of any tension they felt. Ada had been worried about how Jenny would handle meeting Shane so up close and personal. She had argued against moving in with him and had questioned the very basis of their relationship. Not that Shane had known any of this, but Ada was afraid that he could sense the disdain that Jenny held for him. She looked for any outward signs from Jenny as they all talked, but she could see none, and Shane seemed his outwardly, gregarious self, a persona he commonly assumed in the presence of guests or clients.

For a brief moment, Jenny lapsed into memories of Shane’s many faces including the one she had seen only emerge sporadically, the angry, controlling man who was too quick to impose upon her physically. She visibly flinched in her repose on the couch. She looked at Shane and then Jenny to see if either noticed. Neither did. Shane had been on his best behavior since she had agreed to move in with him. She was satisfied that he had simply lost control of his emotions earlier. Now, if she could just get Jenny to believe it.

She hadn’t seen much of Jenny in the past two weeks. Part of it was Jenny’s dissatisfaction with her decision to move in with Shane. She had protested heartily, and when she had lost the argument on grounds purely emotional, she had disappeared into the crowd around Ada’s life. It wasn’t that she refused to talk to Ada. She simply didn’t make the effort that she normally made, and since Ada was absorbed in preparations for her move, the two had barely spoken by the time they sat next to each other on the long couch in Shane’s spacious living room.

Shane excused himself to retrieve another bottle of wine from his wine cellar in the basement. Jenny moved closer to Ada on the couch as she watched him leave.

“How has it been living here with him?” she asked coyly.

“Great! I love it!”

“Seriously. Has he shown any signs of aggression?”

“Jenny, he just lost his temper. He knows he was wrong. He’s been nothing but the kindest man to me since I moved in.”

“You haven’t fought once?” Jenny seemed doubtful.

“Not once.” Ada shook her head affirmatively.

“A leopard doesn’t change his spots, Ada.”

“Spare me the clichés. Why can’t you just be happy for me?”

Before Jenny could answer, Shane popped back into the room with a couple of fresh wine bottles. She gave Ada a hurt look but said nothing. She turned away to eye the interloper who walked behind the bar on the edge of the living room.

“What are you ladies talking about?” Shane asked. He seemed in good humor.

“Just catching up,” Ada responded quickly. He detected a slight squeak to her voice, but he didn’t mention it. Instead, he popped the cork on an expensive red wine that he had been holding for just the right moment. The tannins rushed to his nostrils and he breathed them in. He refilled his glass, took the bottle to the couch, and refilled the others’ as well.

The afternoon passed quickly. The blur of conversation became ever more incorrigible with each sip of wine. By the time Jenny stood up to meet the Uber that had just arrived at the gate, she danced like a weak sapling in a slight wind. She leaned in to kiss Ada goodbye and barely landed the kiss on her cheek. Ada laughed and steadied Jenny with her hand.

Shane bid Jenny farewell without moving from his spot on the couch. He didn’t seem drunk in the very least, but he was too comfortable to move for Ada’s awkward friend. Ada followed Jenny to the door to wait for the car to pull up at the top of the drive. At first they said nothing to each other, and then Jenny wavered. She put her arm around Ada to steady herself. Ada giggled.

“How many glasses did you have?” Ada asked.

“Just a couple.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

“Oh…I’m fine. I’m just a little woozy. I think I need a nap.”

Ada giggled again. The car rounded the loop in the drive and stopped at the bottom of the steps near the front porch. Ada helped Jenny maneuver the steps and get in the car.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Ada asked again.

Jenny smiled as she plunked down into the back seat somewhat wobbly. “I’m fine…,” she said as she looked up to Ada, “…remember what I said.”

“What?”

“About the leopard.”

Ada sighed but retained the smile on her face. “You’re drunk, Jenny. Go home and get some rest.” Ada leaned down and hugged her friend before she shut the door and watched the car pull away down the winding drive. She steadied herself and walked back into the house.

Shane still sat in the same spot she had left him. Without a word, she lay down near where she and Jenny had just spent most of the afternoon. She closed her eyes for a moment before Shane broke the silence.

“I don’t like your friend.”

Ada opened her eyes and frowned to the ceiling. “Jenny?”

“Who else?”

“Why?”

“Because she’s a nosy, know-it-all.”

“How can you possibly make that judgment? You barely know her.”

“I’m a great judge of character. That’s how I make my living.”

Ada rolled her head to the side to look directly at Shane. He looked angry, discontent, and his disposition worried her. She’d seen that look before. She started to argue but thought better of it. They were both under the influence of the wine. She decided to remain silent and hope that once the wine wore off he’d come to his senses, but the implicit threat electrified the air between them. She returned her gaze to the ceiling and breathed in heavily.

“I don’t want you hanging out with her anymore.”

“Why?”

“She’ll try to come between us. She’s jealous of how happy you are. I could see it her eyes. I know women like her. They’re never happy when their friends are happy.”

“Jenny’s not like that.”

“You’re blind to her.”

A silence hung between them. Ada peered through the gauze of the wine. Shane seemed to mumble something else, but she couldn’t understand it. She felt confused.

“Did you hear me?” Shane asked impatiently.

“What?” Ada responded somewhat irritated by her inability to comprehend her surroundings. The wine made her dizzy.

She heard Shane get up from the couch. She blinked and he was there in front of her standing seemingly high above her looking down at her with an ugly scowl on his face.

“I forbid you from seeing her again. Do you understand me?”

In that moment it seemed inconceivable that Ada had heard him correctly, but the look on his face and his stance above her frightened her. The wine had sapped all her cognitive abilities. She just wanted to sleep and make that angry version of him go away.

“Okay,” she whimpered. She shut her eyes and turned away from him. He stood there for a few seconds, fists clinched, and waited for further argument. He stared at her disdainfully. Once he was satisfied that she understood him, he placed his wine glass on the bar and left the room.

Ada fell asleep unsure if she had dreamed the encounter or if it had actually happened. Her mind struggled to discern the difference. She hoped sleep would make it all better.

Ada: Episode 4

“I think I’m in love!” Ada said excitedly when Jenny sat down at the table between them. She’d been waiting patiently for Jenny to arrive for their lunch together, and the news had sat on the edge of her tongue the whole time. She couldn’t wait any longer.

Jenny smiled weakly, but said nothing until she sat down and settled herself in the stiff chair. She scooted the metal chair closer to the table. Pedestrians walked by the sidewalk café in a constant stream near them, but Jenny kept her eyes on Ada who smiled broadly and eagerly anticipated a response from her best friend.

“With Shane?” Jenny asked. She failed to hide her bewilderment.

Ada softened like a balloon that had a slow leak. “Yes, Shane. Who else would I be talking about?”

“It’s just that you’ve only been back together for a month. Don’t you think it’s a little soon to call it love?”

“No, I don’t, Jenny. Love doesn’t follow a schedule. It just happens, and it has happened to me. I thought you’d be happy.”

“I am happy, Ada, but I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

Ada had stiffened in the bright light of Jenny’s skepticism, but she leaned back when she understood her friend’s concern. “It’s different this time. I know it in my heart.” She tapped the left side of her chest with her fingertips for emphasis.

The waiter weaved in and out of their conversation delivering their drinks and plopping a basket of bread between them, but they mostly ignored him until he announced himself and asked them for their orders. They obliged, barely taking their eyes off each other as if they didn’t want to break the connection between them. Finally, the waiter trotted off to the kitchen to make their order.

Ada remained silent as she busied herself with a piece of bread and a dabble of sumptuous butter that she spread sparingly on the warm slice. Jenny watched her as she sipped her water.

Jenny broke the temporary silence. “How is Shane?”

Ada smiled. “He’s wonderful. He’s the most caring man I’ve ever met. We spend so much time together that I’m seriously considering moving in with him.”

Jenny sat back in her chair, stunned. She couldn’t believe the turn of events. Barely a month ago, Ada had sat in her apartment crying hysterically because Shane had grabbed and threatened her, and now she was singing his praises and considering moving in with him. She wanted to raise her objections. Even with her flighty relationship history, she knew that you didn’t move in with someone after only two months. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Are you sure you want to do that now?” Jenny asked. She couldn’t help herself.

Ada stopped mid-sentence and looked at her friend. Jenny couldn’t tell if she was surprised, hurt, or angry.

“I’m not entirely sure, but it feels right,” she said finally. Jenny was relieved that her response was more rational than emotional. Her friend usually wasn’t very pragmatic when it came to relationships. That had been the case the entire time she’d known Ada since they first met in college.

“If I were you, I’d wait.” Jenny didn’t mean to be so blunt. It just came out. She grimaced a little as she said it.

Ada paused and looked at her friend before taking another bite of bread. She seemed to be thinking as she chewed her food. Jenny took a nervous drink of her water.

“You’re probably right,” Ada said. Jenny sighed internally.

“If it’s the right thing to do, you can always do it later. He’ll understand if he loves you.”

Ada smiled. “He does love me. He tells me every day. Yesterday, he sent me flowers for no reason at all.”

Jenny couldn’t help but smile at Ada’s goofy grin. She’d seen her friend this head over heels in love before, but she didn’t mention this fact to her. She just hoped that this relationship turned out well for Ada. So many of her other relationships had come and gone like the seasons, and every time, she found herself comforting Ada in the depths of despair until she was well enough to begin anew. She loved her friend, but she wondered how such a whip-smart woman could end up in so many desperate relationships.

What concerned her most was the whole moving in part. Ada had never taken that step before, and certainly, she hadn’t moved so fast in her other affairs. They had simply burst onto the scene, burned brightly for a brief while, and fizzled into a night of crying and binge eating in Ada’s townhouse.

Ada noticed Jenny had said nothing for a bit as she had rambled on about Shane and how great he was. She had explained that their fight was just a misunderstanding and that he had reacted that way because he had realized he loved her so much.

“You okay?” Ada asked pausing for Jenny’s response.

“Oh, I’m fine. I’m very happy for you. You certainly deserve this after all you’ve been through.”

Ada looked at Jenny for a moment trying to ascertain how she really felt, but Jenny betrayed nothing. Ada smiled.

“I do deserve this. For once in my life, I’ve met a man who will stop at nothing to show me how much he loves me.”

The waiter poked his way into their conversation with their food. He put the plates down in front of them and asked if they needed anything else. Neither of the women requested anything. The smell of pasta basted in marinara sauce and lemon-drenched salmon wafted between them. They ate in silence reflecting on their conversation. Jenny tried to digest what she had just learned, while Ada lost herself in the excitement of her relationship with Shane. She couldn’t wait to see him later that evening. She couldn’t wait to tell him that she would move in with him.

Ada: Episode 3

Shane hovered over her momentarily breathing heavily and covered in a sheen of sweat. His predictably big, bright smile beamed as he struggled to catch his breath. Without a word he flung himself down on the bed beside Ada and let out a groan as if he had been injured. Ada stared at the ceiling with a half smile equally spent and exhausted. She ached in the most pleasant way.

Three weeks. That’s all it had taken for them to have sex. Despite her youth Ada had always been adept at swatting away the advances of aggressive men. Her beauty had often made her an object of desire of many men who mindlessly pursued her with the most indiscrete intentions. She’d grown keen to this tendency early on and often toyed with it like a cat toys with a mouse. Of course, it helped that her mother had provided her with a textbook case of what not do with her endless foray of failed, abusive relationships. She swore she would not be like her mother. She couldn’t be. She was too smart for that.

Shane’s breathing receded and slowed, but he said nothing. Ada glanced at him and watched his eyes flutter shut and open lazily as he stared at the ceiling. She found it odd when he was quiet since he was rarely so. He seemed to always be talking about something whether it was the latest deal at his work, his travels, or the winless ways of his favorite team, the New York Jets. She realized she enjoyed the silence with him more than the constant conversation. She had found the one thing that shut him up, and it humored her. She giggled.

“What?” he asked groggily.

“Nothing,” she replied embarrassed that she had giggled out loud.

“Come on, you can tell me. Was it not good for you?”

“It was great. I just thought of something funny.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

“It’s something silly.”

Shane rolled over on his side to face her, but Ada remained fixated on the ceiling above her, ears burning from embarrassment. He wrapped his hand around her cheekbone and pulled her face toward him. “If we’re going to be in a relationship, you have to tell me everything,” he said. His voice was suddenly serious and demanding but still quelled in the afterglow of sex.

“What? Are you serious?” Ada asked. She looked for a crack of a smile to indicate he was joking, but nothing betrayed his words. He simply scrunched his lips together in a judgmental frown.

“Yes, I’m serious. If I’m going to trust you, then I need to know everything.”

“Trust me? We’ve been going out for three weeks. We just had sex for the first time. That’s a little much, don’t you think?”

“No. I don’t. What were you laughing about?”

An intense anger suddenly flooded her body. The pleasure evaporated and left her cold. She quickly shifted away from him toward the edge of the bed and scanned the floor for her clothes. She peered down the hall where her pants and shirt rippled along the carpet like items tossed from a speeding car. She felt exposed as she stood up in all her nakedness and retrieved her clothing.

“Ada…Ada…,” Shane started as she walked away.

She grabbed the last of her clothes in the hallway and ducked into the spare bathroom to get dressed. She could hear Shane talking, but she ignored his words. His voice rose with each successive word, but nothing made it through to her. She was angry.

Finally, Shane knocked at the door. “Ada.” The knock startled her.

A grim look consumed her face as she patted her hair into place in the mirror above the sink. She ignored Shane until she was satisfied that she no longer looked like she had just had sex. She washed her hands and dried them slowly before she opened the door.

Shane stood there naked and limp. She looked him up and down but remained determined to stand her ground despite the distraction of his taught and chiseled body. “I need to get home.”

“What?…Why?”

“I’m meeting Jenny this afternoon.”

“You didn’t mention that this morning when we met for breakfast.”

“You didn’t ask.”

“So this is how it works? You tell me what you want to tell me and leave me in the dark about everything else?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about? We’ve been going out for three weeks and you give me a lecture on trust…” Ada started. Shane gave her an angry look like he was about to explode. She’d seen that look before on many of the men her mother had brought into their lives. It angered her as much as it frightened her, so she stomped down the hall to get away from him.

Shane pursued her and grabbed her arm just before she reached the front door. His big hand wrapped tightly around her bicep. A crushing pain shot up her arm. “Oww! You’re hurting me!”

“Don’t fucking walk away from me!”

Ada tried to break free but couldn’t. She grimaced in pain. “Let go of me! If you so much as leave a bruise on me, I will go to police!”

Shane seethed, but a cold rational awareness overcame him and he slowly let go. Ada jerked free, opened the door in front of her, and stepped outside. She gave the door an emphatic slam before she hurriedly walked away. She didn’t cry until she sat in the back of the taxi she hailed, and even then, her tears were silent and brooding. She couldn’t believe how her morning had taken a turn for the worse after its promising beginning.

She pulled out her phone and clicked on Jenny’s name. Her thumb hovered above Jenny’s phone number, but she paused. She was in no condition to talk, and she didn’t want to call Jenny all hysterical. She clicked off the phone and stuck it back in her pocket. She’d call Jenny later to see if they could meet up. She needed some time to recuperate and make sense of all that had happened.