Anna relives the horror of her past.
The door opened slowly and Anna’s eyes grew wide with fear as Reverend Williams walked in then locked the door behind him.
“Reverent Williams.” Anna’s voice shook.
He slowly took off his hat and set it on the bureau.
Anna stood feeling her legs shake. “I’m sorry I ran away.” She believed he had come to take her back.
The Reverend stared at her a moment then spoke, “Annabelle imagine my surprise when the good sheriff told me he’d spotted you with Pearl de Vere. For a moment I thought I had failed God.”
“No.” Anna shook her head wildly, “I ran because I was afraid. I’ve just been living here cause of Pearl’s kindness.”
The Reverend laughed, “Oh yes I know all about Pearl’s kindness.”
Anna nervously twisted her hands, “I’m ready to go back now.”
“Go back?” He shook his head, “Why in God’s name would you think I would take a whore back into my home?”
‘I’m not a whore.” Anna said quickly. “I ain’t done nothing wrong.”
He took a step closer to the bed, “Oh yes, I do believe that Annabelle. Believe me I know you haven’t soiled your body yet. If you had I would never have paid Pearl such a large amount of money.”
Anna stared at him in shock, “You paid Pearl?”
“Of course.” He said slipping off his long jacket. “I come here ever so often because I love and respect my wife.”
“What?” Anna couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
He carefully placed his jacket on the back of the chair. “My wife is a good woman who has bore me many children. But I am a man, Annabelle. A man who has certain desires that I would never force upon her.”
“You come here?” Annabelle said trying to make sense of his words, “You …”
“I use these women as they are meant to be used.” He said loosening his collar. “The Lord understands and provides.”
“That’s wrong.” Annabelle said taking a step back and bumping into the marble table.
He shook his head, “No, it’s not wrong at all.” His eyes narrowed, “You know when I first took you into my home I thought that perhaps you would make one of my son’s a good wife.” He laughed, “But God showed me I was wrong. That night in the barn when I stripped down your dress I felt my loins tighten. It was then I knew you were a whore sent to tempt me. Had you not run away I would have thrown you out.”
Tears appeared in Anna’s eyes, “I didn’t do nothin’ wrong.”
Slowly he began to unbutton his shirt. “Your body tempts men. You are a whore sent to tempt the righteous.”
“I’m not a whore.” Annabelle cried out. “I never did nothin’ to tempt you.”
“A man can see it in a whore’s eyes. You were beggin’ for it and now since I know the truth I plan on giving you just what you want.”
“No, stay away from me.” Anna said, her eyes wide with fear.
“You’re nothin’ but a whore who I paid for.” The Reverend said, “Now strip off that dress and lets see those tits. It took every ounce of willpower I had that night not to turn you around and look at them and I wanna see them now.” He moved quickly and grabbed Anna’s arm before she could move.
Anna tried to pull away but he tightened his grip on her arm. She got one arm free and slapped him across the face.
“You bitch.” He grabbed her again and threw her on the bed.
Anna tried to scoot away but he fell on her. His hand tore at the bodice of her dress tearing the silk and exposing her breasts.
“So young.’ He murmured as his mouth latched on to her nipple.
Anna laid still with tears rolling down her cheeks. She tried to ignore the pain his lips were causing, she tired to block out what was happening but when he lowered his hand and slid it under her skirts she exploded. Her knee came up and she wedged it into his groin with all her strength. The Reverend howled in pain then rolled off her.
Moving quickly Anna got off the bed and started for the door but he’d recovered enough to grab her leg. She fell hard to the ground.
“Bitch I paid for you.” He sneered. “Money given to me from my congregation.”
“I’ll tell them.” Anna cried struggling to free her leg from his hands.
The laughed, “Who would believe a whore? Now come back here girl.” He pulled her body across the floor back towards the bed. Her nails dug into the carpet painfully. As he lifted her to throw her back down on the mattress Anna’s hand caught the glass shade of the lamp. Pulling it with all her strength she crashed it against his head. The man fell to the ground in a heap.
Crying Anna looked down wondering if she’d killed him. He wasn’t moving but she didn’t want to get close enough to see if he was breathing. Her only thought was to escape. Pulling the bodice of her dress together she quickly pinned the torn material then looked around the room frantically. Her eyes caught sight of the window and she ran for it. Pushing it open she climbed out onto the roof and carefully made her way to the lower roof of the porch. From there she would jump down hoping the bushes would help break her fall.
“Annabelle.” It was the Reverends voice. “You come back here.” He screamed.
She didn’t stop to look back. Once she hit the ground she pulled herself out of the bushes and ran for her life. Behind her she heard him still calling her name and knew he was following closely behind.
Tears blinded her but she kept running. Her heart was pounding and she couldn’t breath but she didn’t stop. She had just made it down to the end of Bennett Ave when she felt her hair being tugged so hard she screamed.
“Shut up bitch.” The Reverend panted in her ear. “You ain’t getting’ away and you ain’t gonna tell anyone.” He pulled her into a dark alley between two buildings. “I got a wife and family, I’m a man of God and you ain’t shit. Who do you think is more important to God?” He shoved her hard and she hit the brick wall.
Anna saw stars and slid down to the dirt.
“Anna I know what he did to you.” Gerard said holding her in his arms and rocking her body, “You don’t have to relive that again.”
Anna blinked, “But I want you to know the truth.”
“He raped you.” Gerard said softly, “I know.”
“He raped me and then….”
He got off her and laughed. As he pulled up his pants he spoke, “That was not worth what I paid. Pearl has girls who know how to please a man. I wasted my money.” With that he kicked Anna in the stomach.
She cried out and tried to pull here aching body into a tight ball.
“Shit.” He said shaking his head, “What an awful lay. I should go back and demand my money back.”
Anna kept her eyes closed praying he would leave. She didn’t care if he went back to Pearl’s. She was never going back there.
Again he kicked Anna’s body. When she screamed he kicked her harder, “Shut up you whore.”
The pain was so intense she couldn’t stop crying. When he kicked her again, this time in the face she screamed then spat blood.
“You do know I ain’t gonna let you tell anyone, don’t you whore?” He said looking down at her. “You ain’t never gonna speak a word to anyone ever again. His boot landed on her face, breaking her nose.
Anna felt the blood pouring down her face, “Please.” She begged, “Please.”
He laughed, “Too late to beg for forgiveness. But I am gonna save your soul. If I let you go back to Pearl’s you’d be a whore for the rest of your life so I’m saving you.”
Anna braced herself for the blow that never came but it didn’t matter. He’d ruptured her spleen. Suddenly the hard ground beneath her body only moments before so cold was gone. Somewhere in her mind she knew she was dying.
“Mama” She whispered.
“What the…” The Reverend cried out as his body was hurtled across the dark alley. He hit the brick wall hard then slid to the ground.
Anna forced the eye that was not swollen shut to open. She tried to focus but blood ran down her face blocking her view but for a brief moment she thought she saw the beautiful face of an angel.
“It will not end this way.” A gentle voice whispered.
She could barely make out what happened across the alley. She thought she saw the Reverend lifted up and off his feet then he fell to the ground. Suddenly Anna couldn’t breath as her lung collapsed.
Jacob looked down in contempt at the man lying in the dirt. A look of satisfaction covered his face knowing the man would never hurt another human. Then he quickly turned and walked back over to the girl. He almost turned and left the alley knowing there was nothing he could do for her but something made him stop. Her golden hair matted with blood was spread out on the dirt and her eyes were closed. A feeling he could not explain overcame him. Kneeling down he lifted the battered body onto his lap knowing death was almost upon her. For a brief moment he looked into the once beautiful face then lowered his head. He whispered into her ear, “Soon there will be no more pain.” When he sunk his fangs into her neck she never flinched. Once her heart stopped beating he lifted her into his arms and carried her out of the alley where she had died. He took her to his home to begin life anew.
“Anna” Gerard cried, “Anna” His voice was frantic. Minutes earlier her voice was fallen silent. Now she lay with her eyes wide open not moving. “Oh Anna.” Tears filled his eyes. “Please.”
“Gee” She whispered.
“Anna, thank God.” He looked into her eyes that now were focused on him. “Oh Sugar I was so afraid. I kept calling your name but you didn’t respond.”
“I am sorry.” She said softy, “I was deep in my mind.”
He hugged her tightly, “I thought you were gone. I thought you had left me.” He couldn’t begin to put into words what the last few minutes had been like to him.
“I would never leave you.” She whispered.
Gerard kissed her lips, then her eyes, then and her cheek. “Anna I’m so fuckin’ sorry about what happened to you. You were right. What happened wasn’t fair it should never have happened.”
She smiled slightly, “But if it had never happened we would not be together now.”
“But Sugar all this guilt you have carried for so long ain’t right. You were a victim, Anna. You we’re a victim.”
Even now it was hard for her to let go of the guilt, “But he was right. I would have become a whore. I was ready to sell my body.”
“You were a scared child alone in the world.”
Anna looked into his eyes, “I was scared.” She whispered.
He kissed her lips again then watched as her eyes fluttered shut. A moment later when she stopped breathing he knew she was asleep. Gerard held her close praying the nightmares would not come. As she slept he realized he now understood so much more about her. He now understood her feelings about sex. He understood that the way Healers viewed the sex, as simply a pleasurable act, was something the human still inside her could not accept. It was obvious to him that guilt was another human emotion she still carried deep inside. He prayed that now she had finally told him the truth about her life she would be able to let go of that guilt.
“I love you, Annabelle.” He whispered softly as she slept. “I love the girl you once were and the woman you are now.”