“OH, NOT AGAIN,” EMILY Logan muttered to herself and, irritated, brushed a strand of blond hair off her face.
She glanced at the minister. He was droning on and on about a sin or another. Ashamed, Emily admitted she’d lost track of the service.
Emily pushed hard on the armrests of her chair. She stood up and staggered for a moment, which made her wince. She had to go to the restroom, again, and fast. Well, as fast as she could. These days, it felt like the baby danced on her bladder with a vengeance.
Emily turned to move up the aisle and met Lorna Carter’s scornful eyes. Lorna smirked and then turned to the woman next to her, whispering and shaking her head.
Emily knew the rumors Lorna had spread about her for over half a year now, but she didn’t have the strength to deal with that right then.
Eight months ago, Emily was attacked on her way back home. She was struck from behind and lost consciousness. When she came to, she’d been dragged into an alley behind a closed shop. Her dress was in rags and a huge man loomed over her. She struggled, but he struck her savagely until she lost consciousness again. That night, Emily was raped. She’d just turned sixteen.
A police car found her in the wee hours of the morning and they drove Emily to the catholic hospital of the county. A rape kit was taken, yet it was lost soon afterwards and the police couldn’t make an arrest.
Her mother had requested an emergency contraception pill for Emily, but the doctors refused. They said they might find a hospital or a clinic willing to do that in one of the surrounding counties.
They went there when Emily was discharged, but it was already too late. A month later, they found out she was pregnant with her rapist’s child.
The news overwhelmed the young woman, and for over two months, her mother guarded her constantly, afraid that Emily would harm herself. After those two months, Emily returned to something close to normal.
When she finally stepped out of the house and went back to school, she heard the horrible rumors lurking around. People were saying she got what she’d asked for.
She’d been afraid people would look at her and see a victim. Now, she knew better: they looked at her and saw a whore.
Soon enough, she found out who was behind the ugly rumors: the churchgoing Lorna Carter. She belittled everyone and bullied at least three parts of the town. If Lorna decreed that someone was not to be talked to, most of the people complied because they feared her. Emily learnt to deal with that too. Anyway, some people still visited her and tried to support her.
Emily passed by Lorna’s pew and ignored her. That made Lorna’s blood boil. She wasn’t a person to be trifled with and she had to teach that little scamp a lesson.
Lorna followed Emily’s trip to the door with narrowed eyes. She turned to her old friend, Annaliese, to plot Emily’s total social demise. She still had a few cards left up her sleeve and she couldn’t wait for the day when she would crush that white trash under her heel.
Emily still had some way to the door. Lorna’s eyes bore holes in her back.
The young woman passed by John Rand, who smiled at her. Then he looked behind Emily at Lorna Carter. The hatred in his black hard eyes startled Lorna for a second. Then, an ugly smiled flourished on her thin lips.
John Rand had worked in the bakery on Main Street until Lorna bullied Jeremiah, the owner, and he’d fired Rand, with no reference. Rand couldn’t find another job in town or in the next, and he also had an old mother to support. Lorna didn’t care. He reaped what he sowed.
With indifference, her eyes moved back to Emily. Her gait reminded her of a duck. Lorna’s ugly smile widened.
Emily still had about twelve feet to the door. She stumbled, and Aileen Edwards grasped her arm and helped her recover her balance.
Aileen shook her head with sadness over the seventeen-year-old girl’s state. Then, her blue eyes threw darts to Lorna Carter. Lorna scowled back.
Aileen had also gotten what she merited. She’d dared to contradict Lorna before the church committee. Lorna couldn’t forget or forgive. She’d taken care of Aileen’s marriage.
Lorna’s eyes shone with disdain and then moved back to Emily’s back. Eight more feet to the door. Lorna wouldn’t have been sorry to see the teenager stumble again.
Emily passed by a family of five and the children smiled at her. Lorna’s eyes narrowed to slits. The mother immediately called the children to order.
On the other side of the aisle, Matthew Jackson witnessed the look exchange and molted rage shone in his black eyes. He fixated on Lorna but she smirked at him and shrugged. He was just a bug, nothing important to worry about.
Her eyes went back to Emily. Now, she passed by Lorna’s son, Edward. With a sad smile, Edward tried to assist Emily, but she rejected him. Lorna’s face turned into a mask of fury. That stupid pup! He still sighed after that girl.
Dan Hanson opened the door for Emily and whispered something in her ear. She shook her head, but softened the rejection by stroking the old man’s arm. Hanson smiled at her lowered head and then closed the door behind her.
Then, he turned back to the altar. His eyes intersected Lorna’s. He growled. If eyes could kill, Lorna would have been murdered where she stood.
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