Your Next Book Club Discussion – Bartlett’s Rule

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(excerpt)

     She nodded. Memories flitted through her mind as if the event had just occurred. She swore she could feel the shock and disbelief… and the pain. “Hal was distraught. He begged me to take him back… again. But I couldn’t. He kept calling me but I kept saying no.” She paused unsure whether she could continue, but when she looked at Lon and saw his compassion staring back, she felt stronger. “He was waiting in the apartment one day when I got home from work. I hadn’t thought to change the lock. I didn’t realize he still had a key. He was crying and he begged me to talk, just talk. So I said okay.”
     Lon saw Paige glance at the clock over the stove. Her courage seemed to falter. “Take your time. There’s no hurry.”
     “We argued again. I asked him to leave. He refused. So I said I was going out for a while and would he please be gone by the time I got back.” She felt the sob build inside her. “I finally went to walk out, he grabbed me just inside the door of the apartment, pushed me to the floor, held me down covering my mouth, pulled my clothes off and entered me. Hal said he was showing me he loved me. It was painful. I must have formed a mental block because although I remember being scared about pregnancy, I honestly couldn’t remember or figure out if he used a condom or came in me.”
     He suppressed the ripple of anger he felt. “You were in shock.”
     “I never thought he would really hurt me and believe it or not, I was afraid in the beginning of the attack to fight back and hurt him. So in some ways, I almost feel as if I let him do what he did because by the time I did start to fully fight, he had me pinned down. I couldn’t get him off of me.”
     He waited. She was quiet and just stared at the table top. “What happened next?”
     “I… I got up and got dressed and I left. I went to a friend’s house. I thought she was a friend. I was crying so hard. I remember her saying to me ‘Well what did you expect, you never said no to him before.’ The guilt really set in after that and I blamed myself.”
     Sighing, Lon realized how Paige had been betrayed twice, once by Hal and once by that so-called friend. “So you didn’t think you had the right to report it as a crime.”
     She cried. “She convinced me it was my fault. And I knew I hadn’t fought the way I should have. I waited a while and then I called my apartment to make sure he had gone. I went home and showered. I douched. I tried to wash it away. I even threw out the clothes he had torn off of me.”
     Lon stood and started to go to her. Then he thought to ask first. “May I hold you?”
     Paige choked back her tears and nodded. “I’d like that.” She stood and went into his arms. It felt good to be comforted.
     “Ssh.” He held her and soothed her hair away from her face. “None of it was your fault. Hal had no right to do what he did to you.”
     “But I didn’t fight him.”
     “You trusted him. He betrayed that trust.”
     “I… I thought he loved me. He was the first man I had ever been with. We had been sleeping together from before we got engaged. My friend was right, I never told him no.”
     “Your so-called friend wasn’t much of a friend. You didn’t do anything wrong, Paige.”
     She cried into his shoulder and Lon just held her.
Bartlett’s Rule by Chelle Cordero

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