Luis didn’t mind. Rather than take the couch, he went to stay with a friend. He’d just recently moved in with my parents after a bad breakup with a girlfriend he’d lived with. I expect he’ll find a place of his own soon since he likes his space and privacy. I’m sure my parents will be happy as well, because while they love their six children dearly, they also like being empty nesters.

There’s a light knock at the door before it opens. Few people would walk in without an invitation, but I know who it is, and she’s always had an open-door policy here.

Tilting my head slowly over the arm of the couch, I smile when Jorie walks in carrying a huge vase of flowers. I’m not surprised when she hands them right to my mom saying, “Here you are, Mamá. To brighten your day.”

This is typical Jorie. First, she calls my mom “Mamá” just like I do, but she was practically raised in this household. Jorie’s mom died during childbirth and while her dad and older brother Micah did a good job of looking after her, she got “mom loving” over here.

Flowers delivered to the proper person, Jorie turns my way, her eyes raking over me critically. I know I don’t look that bad other than the purple bruising at my temple and the line of delicate blue stitches along my temple. Still, she’s evaluating my body language, facial expressions, and general vibe I’m giving off. My bestie knows me that well.

Sauntering my way, she mutters, “Well… you could look worse, I suppose.”

When I grin, she’s sinks to her knees by the couch, then wraps me up in a warm, gentle hug.

“I can’t believe this happened to you,” she whispers, and I can hear the emotion in her voice. “If you had died on me, I swear I’d never forgive you.”

“I’d never do that to you,” I whisper back, tightening the embrace.

When she pulls back, she peers closer at my temple. “That bastard. Have they found him?”

I shake my head. Just that small movement hurts. They gave me some pain medicine at the hospital, but I haven’t taken it yet. I’m okay with good old-fashioned Tylenol to take the edge off, but the edge still has a bit of a bite. I was told I’d feel better in a few days, though.

I’d already told Jorie all the details yesterday when I called her after I got home. I waited until then so she wouldn’t rush off to the hospital. When it was late enough, I could feign being too tired to have her visit. I knew she’d want to come, but she hadn’t needed to. I was going to be fine.

Physically, for sure.

Emotionally might be another thing. I’ve found myself a little weepy this morning, and I can’t figure out why. I’m naturally a strong woman. The one who steps up in a crisis. Remains calm and collected. I’m the bearer of responsibility. The one who cares for people.

And yet… the slightest thing makes me want to cry today.

My mom fluttering all around me.

Luis being overly solicitous when he stopped by twice today to check on me.

My dad taking an earlier flight back just to assure himself his only girl was okay.

Jorie alternating between wanting to organize a man hunt for my assailant to wanting to break down into a puddle of tears on my behalf.

And Benjamin… I want to cry because he’s been very, very silent since he left the hospital yesterday.

I’m no fool. I could tell he was off-kilter the moment our eyes locked in the emergency room. He was beyond bothered over what happened to me. I could sense the anger, frustration, and fear within him. The way he’d coolly assessed my medical condition without giving me what I needed—emotional support—really hurt. I could tell how bothered he was when I recounted my story, and then… it had hurt again when he couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

Sure, I let him lay it all on his job and the need to get back to his patients, but we both know he could have stayed if he wanted.

He just didn’t want to, and, yes, that’s what’s making me feel so sad most of all.

Jorie looks over her shoulder into the kitchen where my mom is making some chicken tortilla soup for me. It’s my favorite.

She then raises an eyebrow at me. “Where the fuck is Benjamin?”

Leave it to Jorie to be able to know exactly what’s bothering me the most.

I shrug. “He picked up an unexpected on-call shift this morning.”

At least that’s what he told me—via text. When he’d left the hospital last night, he’d given me a kiss on my lips and whispered, “I’ll try to come see you tomorrow depending on work.”

I knew it was a lie then.