I don't want to be here. The harsh, sterile fluorescent lighting hurts my eyes and the stinging scent of antiseptic burns my nose. I drowsily roll my head to the side and stare imploringly at my best friend, pleading with him to get me out of this godforsaken place. Andrew merely smiles sympathetically and pats my hand. He does not understand. Of course he wouldn't. He's not lying in this bed with doctors and nurses probing, examining and putting me through what is in essence a second violation.

"Ma'am? The officers would like to speak with you now," a pretty dark- haired nurse appears by my side. The two uniformed officers have been patiently waiting in the hallway for the past half hour. I've watched just enough Law & Order to know the procedure for interviewing a victim. All I really want to do is go home and forget this ever happened. Unfortunately that is not an option. I turn my head back and nod resignedly. Might as well get this over with. The sooner I can answer their questions, the sooner I can leave. Andrew starts to get up to leave the room. I reach out blindly, searching for his hand. He can't leave now. This is the hardest part of all. I need him to be my anchor when I tell them exactly how some sick, perverted creature broke into my house and took away my most valuable possession - my sense of security. He sits back down in the chair, but I can feel the tension and frustration running through him. He does not want to be here either. Now we are even.

To my surprise, only one officer steps into the room. By craning my neck slightly, I can see that the other is talking to my doctor. Officer Sanders is amiable, sensitive and very obviously embarrassed. I answer his questions to the best of my ability, bracing against the terrible onslaught of jumbled memories that threatens to overwhelm me. I did not hear or see anything until the dark-clothed, hooded man was in my study and pushing me roughly against one of the bookcases. I cannot tell him what the man sounded like or give an accurate description of his appearance but I remember the sharp edge of a book digging into the small of my back. The bookcase was not secured to the wall and it shook with the force of his attack. One of my thick hard covers fell off a top shelf and hit him on the head. Taking advantage of his distraction, I hit him with a rather impressive right hook and raced for the cordless telephone. The emergency dispatcher had just picked up when I heard the unmistakable sound of a gun cocking and then I felt a sharp pain in my right thigh. Sensing his time was limited he kicked me twice in the ribs and ransacked the study then the rest of the house. By the time the police and ambulance arrived, he was long gone.

Sanders politely thanks me for my information and promises to stay in touch throughout the course of the investigation. I hope to never hear from him again. There is nothing else I care to remember and I honestly don't want to know who attacked me. I don't know want to know that he did it because his mommy didn't love him enough or loved him too much. I just want to be able to go home and know that I'm safe there but the officer can't promise me that. Nobody can. Not anymore.

The portly, middle-aged doctor returns and announces that I can be released as soon as I am ready. I was ready two hours ago. The nurse will call with the results from the blood tests, but I am not too worried. A condom was used and the book's well-timed interruption kept the molestation from progressing any further. Andrew hands me the bag he thoughtfully packed before racing to join me at the hospital. With the aid of crutches, I unhurriedly make my way to the miniscule bathroom. I slip out of the thin hospital gown and into a pair of Andrew's running shorts and a comfortably worn sweatshirt. The shorts will offer no protection against the below- freezing temperature outdoors, but it is all I can fit over the large cast covering the entire length of my right leg. I cannot contain my curiosity any longer. Lifting the hem of the sweatshirt, I catalogue the large discolorations on my ribs and the red, angry handprints around my neck. Though they are painful now, the marks in time will fade. The scars in my mind and on my soul will not vanish quite as easily.

Once the appropriate forms are signed and I unwillingly accept the bottle of sedatives, Andrew wheels me out of the hospital and into his new SUV. The drive to my house is awkwardly silent. Several times Andrew opens his mouth to speak but closes it before saying what is on his mind. I hate that this has already changed our relationship. I hate how he suddenly feels the need to shelter me from the rest of the world. But more than anything, I hate the part of me that finds his behavior comforting.

Instead of pulling into the driveway, he stops along the street outside the house. In a quiet, hesitant voice he inquires whether or not I would feel more secure staying with him. I firmly insist that I will be fine on my own. I will not let this creep change my entire life. He's already taken too much from me. Every moment we think about him or speak about the attack is one more moment of my life he steals away. With a heavy sigh, Andrew parks in the driveway and jumps out of the car. By the time he races around to my side, I've already opened the door and am struggling to swing my cast out of the narrow opening. Despite my best efforts to send him away, Andrew insists on helping me into the house. He's trying so hard to make this easy on me and is so sincere that I cannot bear to hurt his feelings by being overly harsh. When he offers to stay with me, however, I give up on being civil and order him out of my home.

I go through my nightly routine, annoyed at the alterations that have to be made to accommodate the cast. It will be eight weeks before my thighbone will heal and the cast can be removed. Eight weeks that I will have to be reminded of the incident. Lying in bed that night, I stare at the shadows flickering across the ceiling. Every noise, every creak has my nerves jumping and my body tensing. I want to sleep, but cannot relax. As soon as my eyes close, I see his dark, beady eyes boring into mine and feel his hot breath on my face. The sedatives are in the drawer of my nightstand but I do not reach for them. I will not give in to temptation and allow him to have yet another hold on me. Instead I continue to stare at the ceiling and wait for the sun to rise.