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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Today Helen POV
Today started out just the same as most every other day, perfectly. We were busy from the time we opened the doors (an hour behind because we were otherwise occupied). I am thinking that maybe we should just open an hour later in the morning on a permanent basis. Our regular customers have come to the realization that they should show up afterward anyhow, since we usually don't start on time.
A few months ago, there was someone new in the shop that both Nikki and I noticed and shared a concerned look together. She was quiet and looked as if she just needed a place to feel safe and seemed to have found it here at Hope. It took her a few weeks until she finally felt comfortable enough to talk with Nikki, her name is Sue. After a few more weeks she was talking to some of the other customers as well as both Nikki and I. However there was still something that she was definitely holding back but we weren't sure what it was and we didn't push. After becoming a constant and welcomed daily visitor, Sue suddenly stopped showing up and we were worried.
Sue then showed up one day looking visibly shaken and we both knew that something was definitely wrong. Looking like she hadn't slept in a while, Nikki went over to her with a coffee and sat down with her to chat. I was watching them both when all of a sudden Nikki touched Sue's arm, she flinched and looked terrified. I quickly made my way over to them to see if I could help. Sue started to cry uncontrollably so we took her to the office for some privacy.
Nikki and I looked at each other in shock when she finally told us that her boyfriend, David, had been beating her and she did not know what to do. Once she had calmed down, we offered her our spare room for as long as she needed. It took a bit of convincing but she eventually agreed to stay with us for a little while until she was able to figure things out.
All throughout this ordeal, I was noticing the anger build in Nikki's eyes, a similar look that I remember from all those years ago. My first thought was No, this can't happen again! But Nikki, who has changed and grown so much over these past years, surprised me yet again. Even though we both hated the fact that this young girl was being abused, and it was also bringing some painful memories to the surface for both of us; we still needed to put our efforts into helping this young girl. Nikki told me that she would be okay and that she would keep her anger in check, she needed to be there for Sue.
Sue stayed with us for almost a week with no incidents and she was starting to get back to her old self and was even helping us out in the store. One day though, her boyfriend David had found out where she was staying and came looking for her. He slowly walked into the store looking casually around until he spotted Sue. Not even taking notice of any of the other customers in the store, he began to raise his voice to her and tried to forcefully get her to come with him, but she adamantly refused to leave. Sue was standing strong but was starting to look scared. Not wanting things to escalate, Nikki quickly told me to take Sue to the office and that she would deal with the boyfriend. I took Sue to the office right away and left Nikki to deal with David. He was furious at them all, saying that they should stop butting into his business. As Nikki stood her ground and ushered him out of the shop, he told her that she shouldn't interfere and that she should watch her back. Nikki had heard this type of threat before and didn't take it that seriously. She just told him to leave them alone and to never come back and that if he did, the police would get involved and he would not want that to happen. He finally walked away but you could still see the anger in his face.
Another week went by and we all thought it was over, until that day. Nikki had gone to take out the trash when she thought she heard a noise. She looked around and saw nothing or no one, so she returned inside thinking nothing of it. However, someone really was outside watching her, it was David. He had been watching her for a few days formulating his plan to get back at her for interfering. His plan for revenge was going to take place today.
Nikki continued with her usual routine, one that she found hard to get rid of since being inside. She was making the afternoon trip to the trash when she was hit from behind. Dazed, she was unable to protect herself the way she would have normally been able to. He began to punch and kick her as he taunted her, he was in no hurry.
I knew Nikki's routine and I noticed that she wasn't back yet. She was probably just sitting out there having a smoke waiting for me to find her so she could tease me for checking up on her. I went to look for her anyways. When I got to the door I heard voices. I opened the door and I saw him standing over, pointing his finger at her saying that I told you so. I was terrified but I screamed at him to leave her alone. I then suddenly lunged at him and was able to push him away. He left and turned with a wicked smirk on his face.
I reached down to Nikki as soon as I felt he was really gone. She was lying on the ground semi conscious, bleeding and in pain. I yelled for someone inside to help me and to call for an ambulance. The tears were rolling down my face as Nikki kept going in and out of consciousness. I just kept holding her hand telling her that I was there and that she would be okay.
The next few days seemed to go in slow motion. I sat by Nikki's bedside even when the nurses came in and told me that it was time for me to leave. I refused. The tone in my voice let them know that I was not going anywhere. They finally left me alone after a while realizing that it was no use. Nikki slept most of the first day. I was left with my thoughts however while she slept. I couldn't seem to get that look on his face, that evil smile, his voice, out of my mind. The second day, Nikki was more awake and we made our statements to the police. We talked after about what happened and the tears started to fall again. I told her that I was sorry that I didn't get to her sooner and I couldn't stop him from hurting her. She held me and told me that it had nothing to do with me, it was entirely his fault and that she was thankful that I came looking for her when I did. Nikki then told me that she didn't want any trouble and that we should let the police handle this; they would find him and put him away.
Confused, I just agreed, kissed her and held her close. Lying there in her arms, I knew exactly how she felt all those years ago. I kept feeling that I needed to do something but what?
Nikki only stayed in the hospital for another day before she told them that there was no way she was staying there one more night. They tried to convince her that it would be best if she did, but she refused, she was determined. We were going home.
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