This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 843 words.
There was a time when Amanda liked to be called Mandy.
A time when she used to enjoy going out with friends for drinks, or a meal.
A time when she liked the company of men, and having a regular boyfriend.
A time when she had a great job, and actually enjoyed going to work.
But not any longer. Not since Lee.
He had seemed so nice at first.
Older by a few years, but not too old.
Confident without being cocky.
Good looking without being vain.
Tough and manly without too many muscles or tattoos.
That sort of man rarely looked twice at her, let alone ask her out.
Okay, so he didn’t have a car. Some issue with his licence after leaving the army, so he said. But she had her car, and was happy to drive them around. His job sounded mysterious too. Security Consultant. Being ex-army that probably meant he worked for the Secret Service or something. He didn’t take her to any grand or fancy places, saying he had to be careful where he was seen. But country pubs were nice enough, and he always paid for both of them. So when he suggested an overnight stay in a rural location, she booked the small hotel, and paid for the room in advance.
She couldn’t tell anyone she was seeing him, as he had warned her not to. Her friends started to call him ‘Mandy’s Mystery Man’, and that added to the sense of fun. No photos or selfies either, confirming her excited suspicions that he was doing some cloak and dagger work.
After the weekend away, she knew she was in love with him. He had been a wonderful lover, and attentive and caring all the time. The difference between him and the last man in her life, Richard, was incredible. After work on the Monday, she bought him an expensive watch as a gift. But when she gave it to him that Friday evening, he just closed the box, kissed her, and said he couldn’t wear it at the moment.
On the way back to her flat after drinks, she had become niggled about that, and started to ask him why. As they got out of the car in the underground garage, he suddenly turned and pushed her violently, shouting as he did so. “Stop going on about the shitty watch!”. She fell hard enough to graze her elbow, and tears filled her eyes at the shock of the sudden change in him.
There were apologies of course, but she wasn’t convinced. “You can come in and phone a taxi, but I don’t want you to stay over tonight”. He had sat quietly waiting for the taxi, and left without incident. Flowers were delivered in the post for her, and a card with butterflies on it contained one word. “Sorry”. When he rang her for the tenth time, she answered. He explained about the stress of his job, the danger, constantly feeling on edge. He was sorry he had taken it out on her, but it would never happen again. He sounded sincere, so she accepted his offer of a meal the following night.
Mandy met him outisde the pub, and was upset to find him already drunk at seven in the evening, slurring his words. Alarm bells went off in her head. “Sorry, but I am going to go home. Contact me when you are sober, and I will decide if I am going to see you again”. She headed back to her car parked in a side street, confused and angry. As she got into the driver’s seat, a rough hand grabbed her. She looked up and saw Lee, a horrible smirk on his face. Then he pulled her into the gap of the open door and slammed it against her head.
When the dizziness went away, she wiped her eyes and nose on a tissue then drove straight to the police station. They took a statement, and arranged for a police doctor to come to see her there. Photographs of her head were taken, and dressings put on the two cuts caused by the edge of the door. Then two policewomen drove her home, telling her to leave her car where it was and collect it when she felt better. They said they were going to arrest Lee at his house that night, and charge him with assault. She would be hearing about the court case in due course.
But after three days off sick at home, she rang the police and withdrew her statement. They pressed her, even mentioning wasting police time, but she stuck to it. There was no way she could face him in court and have all her past life dragged up by the defence. Another policeman phoned her later, and when she convinced him that she was not going to give evidence under any circumstances, he told her they would have to drop the charges.
After that, she just stopped going out anywhere.