Epilogue

As I sit at my desk and type this final chapter, all of my memories from the past flood through my mind. I involuntarily flinch at the thought of Ryan's beatings. Just as I am thinking of my visit with him in jail, I hear a soft cry coming from the room next to mine. I get up and follow the noise. I end up standing in front of my daughter's crib. She becomes silent as she realizes that I am there. I gently pick her up and look into her dark blue eyes, which were inherited from me. I stroke her white-blonde curls and kiss her chubby cheek. She smells of baby powder. I rock back and forth as I murmur to her.

"Go back to sleep, Tasha. It's 2 in the morning," I tell her in a soothing voice. I can hear her sigh. That is when I know she is content. I lay her back in her crib and kiss her forehead before exiting her nursery. On the way back to my office, I notice the black picture frame containing a picture of my parents and me hanging on the wall. I stop to glance at it, my heart warming at the memory of my parents announcing that they were getting back together. That was when I was 19, two years after my incident. I look at the frame one more time before entering my office. I take a quick glance at the mirror, seeing a beautiful young woman with dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep. I sit back at my desk and yawn. I promised myself that I would finish my side of the story tonight, no matter how long it'd take.

Before I forget, I must credit my friends for telling me their experiences during my 'absence'. Without their accounts of what had happened, I would not be writing this right now. I glance at the picture frame that I always keep next to my computer; the picture frame that holds the picture of Natalie, Alexis, Erika, and I. It's not my best picture, I admit. In it, my hair is pulled up into a messy bun and my stomach is round and ready to burst. It was taken at my baby shower, three weeks before I gave birth to Tasha.

If you hadn't guessed by now, my name is Marilyn Bliss Hughes-Matthews. I am 26 years old and currently residing in Hollywood, Florida. I'm happily married to a man I met while attending Keiser University. His name is Paul Matthews and together, we have a beautiful one year old daughter.

It amazes me how much life can change. One minute you can be clinging to death, and the next you're living in a big house with a beautiful family, living the life you've always dreamed of.

I don't like thinking about the past. It's bad enough that every time I look into the mirror, I see the pink scares on my forehead that remind me of my abusive relationship with Ryan Brant. Makeup can cover up the scars, but not the memories behind them. I can't take back the lies and betrayal I caused to my friends, which still hurts the most.

After years of therapy, I finally came to the conclusion that the only way to get over my ordeal was to accept it. Thus, writing a book about it.

It took me a while to gather up the strength I needed in order to write the gory details of this horrific story. One lesson learned was that there is such a happy ending.

And this is mine.