Today I'm bringing you another huge teaser from my upcoming release, Overcome. Two and a half weeks ago, I revealed the Prologue for Overcome and today I'm sharing Chapter 1. If you haven't read the Prologue, I recommend you read that before continuing.
Read the Prologue for Overcome.
Lexi - One hour later
I walked into the twenty-four hour free clinic forty minutes from campus. The chance of seeing someone I knew was less likely here.
As I walked up to the reception desk, the woman behind the counter looked up at me. “Hi, can I help you?”
Did she really want to help me? Could she?
I swallowed down the emotions bubbling to the surface and barely squeaked out, “I…I’d like to be seen by a doctor.”
“Sure. What’s your name?
She offered a friendly smile and asked, “And what brings you in today, Lexi?”
Could I say it?
I wasn’t sure I knew what to call what it. Rape seemed like the appropriate word, but I knew him. I liked him. I had been dating him.
“Um, can I…is there a female doctor on staff?”
Understanding washed over her and she moved into action. “Absolutely. Why don’t you follow me back and you can complete the paperwork in the exam room?”
I really didn’t want to follow anyone anywhere. I wanted to leave. I wanted to climb in my bed and curl up under the covers. I never wanted to step out in public again. But he hadn’t used a condom. Not being seen by a doctor wasn’t an option.
“Do you have anyone you’d like me to call for you?” she asked gently, snapping me out of my thoughts.
I didn’t tell her that. What would they think? How would they feel? I’d never bring this devastation on them.
I simply shook my head and decided to follow her into the room. It’s not like she could make me feel any worse than I already did.
Once inside the exam room, she handed me a clipboard and said, “Take your time and complete this as best you can. I’m going to get the nurse who will come in and explain what the next steps are. Is there anything I can get you in the meantime?”
“No,” I responded. “I just want to get out of here as soon as possible.”
She gave me a gentle nod, walked to the door, and ended with, “Candace is the nurse. She’ll be in to see you in just a few minutes.”
“Thank you,” I replied quietly.
Three and a half hours later, I was finally back in my car. I had been poked, prodded, and through a battery of questions, most of which I preferred to not answer. I had no intentions of pressing charges or filing a report, but I was strongly encouraged to have the full SANE exam done in case I changed my mind.
While the nurse was incredibly patient and understanding throughout the process, it was the most humiliating experience of my life. The thought that I’d have to relive this nightmare again by filing a report made me sick to my stomach. And I couldn’t even begin to think about the heartache my family would go through if they knew what happened.
I merely went to the free clinic to make sure I was physically ok. He hadn’t worn a condom and while we’d been on a few dates, I didn’t know him well enough to know his history. Before I left, I was given a referral to a therapist. I had no intentions of ever mentioning this ordeal again, but I took the therapist’s information and slipped it into my purse anyway.
It was just after one in the morning when I got back to my dorm room. I don’t think I was ever more grateful at the fact that my roommate rarely spent any nights in our room. I needed to be alone.
Once I was there, I grabbed the items I needed and hurried to the showers where I found the silver lining…lockable shower stalls.
As the water warmed up, I removed my clothes. Stepping under the spray, I found myself continuing to turn the handle toward the hottest setting. No matter that my skin had turned bright red, the heat from the water surprisingly caused no pain. It did little to penetrate through to everything I felt inside.
Keep it together. Three exams. Three exams, a paper, and you’re out of here. Just keep it together.
So, that’s what I did.
I washed the filth from my body and I kept it together.
Four days later
I had just walked out of my last exam and called my mom.
“I’m finished,” I answered.
“One year down, three more to go,” she replied. She was so proud. “Logan and Luke drove up separately so we’d have more room to bring your stuff home until next semester. They left a few minutes before us, so they’ll get there first. Dad and I are about twenty minutes away.”
“Ok,” I replied. “I’ll see you soon.”
I disconnected the call and walked back to my dorm. I couldn’t wait to see my family. I’d been putting on a brave face for the last few days with the friends I’d made in my first year here, but my heart wasn’t in it. I’m not sure if anyone could tell I wasn’t myself or if they just assumed it was the stress of finals, but I didn’t much care either way. I wasn’t coming back.
Not quite ten minutes later, there was a knock on my door.
I looked out the peephole and was immediately overcome with emotion. My hands were shaking as I struggled to open the door. Once I accomplished that feat, I flung myself into Logan’s arms and broke down.
“Hey,” he comforted, his voice soft as he squeezed me tight. “What’s going on, Lex?” He was truly concerned, but I couldn’t find any words to give him the truth.
“How’d you get into the building?” I sobbed.
“Someone was walking out as we walked up to the door. They let us in,” he answered.
Logan held on to me and shifted me back into the room. Luke stepped in behind him and closed the door. I continued to cry.
“Lexi,” Luke called, the worry just as relevant in his voice. “What’s wrong?”
I took in a few settling breaths and pulled away from Logan. I immediately regretted losing the comfort of his embrace. Trying to gather myself, I moved to Luke and hugged him as I lamented, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok. Are you alright?” Luke wondered.
After giving myself a few more seconds in the security of his arms, I answered, “I’ve just missed you guys so much. I hate it here.”
This took them by surprise.
“What do you mean? You said you loved it here when you came home over the holiday break,” Logan reminded me.
I needed to backtrack.
Shaking my head, I tried to cover it up. “I just mean that I hate being so far away from home. I miss you guys.”
“It’s only two hours away,” Luke pointed out.
I didn’t respond. Instead, I dropped my gaze to the ground, willing myself to keep it together. Finally, I spoke and told them what I needed.
“I want to change schools,” I started. “I want to be closer to home.”
Neither of my brothers had a chance to respond before we were interrupted by the ringing of my cell phone.
“Mom?” I answered.
“Hey, sweetie. We’re here. Can you let us in?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Give me a minute.”
I ended the call and shared, “Mom and Dad are here. I’ll go let them in.”
By the time I got down to the front door, I managed to compose myself. I greeted my parents with hugs before we walked back up to my room and dove into moving me back home for the summer.
Just over an hour after they all arrived, I left school knowing I’d never step foot on the campus again.
Eight weeks later
I was sitting in my car contemplating if this was the right choice.
I should have suspected I would end up here, but I didn’t. Not necessarily because I thought it was bad, but because I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to relive it.
Not only that, it was going to serve as a bit of a blow to my pride that I even needed it. Wouldn’t this just mean that I wasn’t strong enough to take care of myself?
But something happened and I should have known it would eventually happen.
My mistake was believing I could push my rape and all the emotions it stirred up to the back of my mind and bury it without ever having it resurface.
With each day that passed, I kept pushing forward, remaining focused on what I had to do. If I kept myself busy, I wouldn’t have to worry about the thoughts I knew that could take over and completely break me.
I left school about two months ago and talked to my parents about transferring to a school closer to home. My parents lived in Rising Sun, Wyoming, and I settled on a school in the neighboring town of Windsor. They didn’t think twice and immediately helped me make the arrangements. I also decided I didn’t want to live on campus. I told my parents I’d prefer to get an apartment in Windsor that was off-campus, but close enough that I wouldn’t have to travel too far when the weather got bad. They were supportive of my choice, only after I explained that I wanted to have a quiet place to myself without the worry of a roommate. Being the person I was, they never suspected that I wanted to remove myself from any situation that involved constant interaction with people I didn’t know. I’d always been outgoing, so the idea that I’d suddenly want to be secluded from others would never cross their minds.
I wanted to finish school.
I did not want to meet new people and make new friends.
People couldn’t be trusted.
Of course, I began wondering if I could trust myself because I was making decisions believing I knew what was best for me.
And while I should have expected it, I was naive. Every night, I struggled to get a decent night’s rest. At first, I had trouble falling asleep. Once I managed to get to sleep, I only got in a couple hours before I was woken by nightmares.
In those nightmares, I relived it.
My arms being pinned over my head. His body over mine. The smell of his cologne. And worst of all, him taking something that didn’t belong to him, something I didn’t want to give.
I needed to find a way to exhaust myself. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep.
So, I had purchased a few small dumbbells on my own, but managed to convince my parents to let me take the elliptical from their house when I moved. Up until the point I’d asked them if I could take it, it had served mostly as a decorative piece in their finished basement or a place to hang a blanket. Since nobody was using it, my parents didn’t require much convincing.
I’d been in my new apartment for three weeks now and hadn’t had the elliptical moved yet. And every night since I moved into the apartment I’d experienced nightmares. When I was at my parents’ house, I had them, but not like I was now.
I wasn’t sure if it was because I was alone now, but I knew I couldn’t go home. Being on edge all the time around my parents would be a sure-fire way to bring this hideous situation to light. I refused to do that to them and, instead, asked Logan and Luke if they’d move the elliptical for me.
Three hours ago, that’s what they did. Only, while they were there, something happened.
Logan knocked on my bedroom door and told me they had just finished reassembling the elliptical in the spare bedroom. When I walked into the room, he went into the bathroom on the opposite side of the hall.
I was standing there with Luke talking to him when I felt someone come up behind me. From the time we were kids, my older brothers and I always joked around and spooked one another and our parents, so Logan didn’t know he shouldn’t have done something he’d done so many times before. He put his hands on my sides and made a noise to scare me.
I lost it.
I turned around so fast and lashed out at him.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I shouted, my arms coming out and pushing him away from me.
“Relax, Lex, it was just a joke.”
“It’s not a fucking joke, Logan,” I shot back, my heart pounding so hard in my chest. “Grow the fuck up already!”
He stared at me in shock.
I’d never spoken to him like that before.
“Lexi, what’s wrong?” Luke chimed in.
My gut twisted in despair. I lost my cool in front of them.
Shaking my head, I apologized, “I’m sorry. I’m fine. It’s just been a long couple of weeks with switching schools, getting moved, and trying to find a part-time job.”
My brothers gave me looks that told me they didn’t necessarily believe I was giving them the truth.
“Are you sure?” Logan asked.
I nodded quickly and repeated, “I’m sorry, Logan. I shouldn’t have said that.”
He held my gaze a minute before he quickly brushed it off. “No harm done.”
“Thanks again for bringing this here for me today,” I told the both of them, waving my hand in the direction of the exercise equipment. “I really appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” Luke replied. “You need anything else?”
I shook my head.
At that, Luke and Logan left. The second they walked out of my apartment, I fell to the floor and cried my eyes out. They were two of the four people in my life that I knew I could always trust and depend on to be there for me and I’d just treated Logan like a piece of shit.
Guilt consumed me more than it had over the last two months and I couldn’t control it any longer. I cried for a long time, hating myself for everything I’d done. And for everything I didn’t do.
When I’d gotten it all out, I grabbed my purse, my keys, and got in my car.
Now that I was parked here and had replayed the awful things in my head, I made my decision. I got out and walked into the building.
When I entered, I was greeted by two women. One was sitting at a reception desk, the other was standing beside it. They looked at me with friendly faces and both said, “Hi.”
“Hi,” I began. “I’m looking for Dr. Lane.”
“That’s me,” the woman who was standing declared.
My eyes were pleading with hers when I stated, “I think I need your help.”
I hope you enjoyed this teaser chapter from Overcome.
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