I slowed to a walk. It had taken a while to build my endurance back up but it felt good to run again. My injuries were all nicely healed and I'd been able to get back to running.
Nine months ago, James had kidnapped and tried to murder me. A lot had changed in that nine months.
I'd gone to therapy for several months after the incident. I'd had nightmares frequently at first but those had finally subsided. As I'd healed physically, my mind also healed. James had been a psycho and I'd done nothing to deserve what he'd done to me. I was over it and had moved past the incident.
Edward had proposed to me and I'd accepted. We were getting married next month. It would be a small affair with just friends and family attending. Neither of us had wanted a big to-do, just something simple to share with those closest to us.
The day I left the hospital, my insurance company presented me with a settlement check for my home for a nice tidy sum. It felt good to have some money in the bank for a change.
I gone in to Jane's to quit as soon a few days after I'd been released from the hospital. Life was just too short to waste it on a dead end job. I was certain I could find another job somewhere else. Having the insurance money in the bank helped me make the decision.
I was shocked when I'd walked in to Jane's to find that Royce had been arrested and was in jail for embezzlement. As it turned out, Jane, the club's owner was Jasper's highest caliber client. When I'd gone to Jasper with my finances, he'd immediately alerted Jane to Royce's shenanigans and she'd sent Jenks to investigate under the guise of "marketing research." When Jenks reported back to Jane, she had all the proof she needed to send Royce to prison for a really long time. Turns out he wasn't just stealing from me, he was stealing from Jane as well, skimming off the top of the club's receipts.
Jane had been in Royce's old office when I'd arrived. She invited me in and had me take a seat.
"Bella, first of all I want to apologize for the situation that Royce has put me in. I am embarrassed that I had no idea this was going on. Had I known, I would have, of course, put a stop to it immediately. You'd probably be well within your rights to sue the club but to preempt that, I'd like to make you an offer. I've run this by Jasper and he assures me that you'll be pleased. I'd like to settle this without involving lawyers, so I think this would make it worth it."
With that, she pushed a check across the desk to me. I nearly fainted when I saw the figure on the face of the check. All those zeros... It was repayment for all the money Royce had taken from me times three. I quickly signed some paperwork agreeing never to sue Jane's, took my check and never looked back. I did stay in touch with Angela. As a matter of fact, she was set to be my maid of honor at the wedding.
Edward had gone into private practice in a suburb of the city. It was so much easier on both of us with him having regular hours and not working evenings. We'd grown into quite the picture of domesticity. There was plenty of time for us to have guests over for dinner or a night out with Jasper and Alice or our other friends. It was nice.
Edward and I bought a house together in a gated community with a nice safe trail for me to run on. I'd hated running on the treadmill. It did the job but it was boring as hell. The new house had a perfect space for an art studio so I'd started painting full time, often selling the canvases to Alice's clients or placing a few in galleries throughout the city.
Alice had, of course, helped us decorate our new home. It was a reflection of both of us, not one or the other, but both. The only thing Alice had butted heads with Edward and I on was the addition we'd made in the master bedroom. She said she'd never be able to work around it but we'd insisted. In the end, we'd one and the stripper pole stayed.
I only danced for Edward now.