Hello again! I know I was supposed to write the Victorian era story, but somehow this story sort of fell into my lap one day quite recently. I'm dedicating this to Kate Southward, a victim who succumbed to her injuries on Friday, October 5th, 2012 after a brutal attack from her boyfriend of five years. She was the cousin of one of my friends, Angela, whom I met on FFnet through Separate Beds.

I think that domestic abuse/violence is a serious crime, and it should be known that it does happen…not only to anonymous people you read about in the papers, but it may very well happen to someone you know, even your loved ones. Spread the word. Be informed of this kind of tragedy. I'm hoping that this story will open your eyes to the harsh reality that some people have to face on a daily basis. If you are a victim, seek help immediately. If you know a victim, even if it's just a hunch, tell someone. You just might save a life.

Thank you to Angela for her permission to write this story, and to Kristi, my newly appointed beta for her awesome skills and input. Also to Kate for her support and encouragement, and finally to Carol, whose in-depth knowledge of medical terms and conditions doesn't make me sound like an idiot….yet. It's only the first chapter, after all. I'm sure I will sound like an idiot sooner or later.

Disclaimer: Character names are based on the TV series, The Vampire Diaries. Plot and dialogues are all mine. This is an AH/AU story except for Mason's character. There's nothing remotely human about him in this story.

I wanted to say enjoy the chapter, but somehow it wasn't an appropriate usage of the word.

A Woman's Worth: Chapter One

"Hello," I announce nervously as I rise to my feet, feeling everyone's focus suddenly shift onto me. Averting my gaze from all the unwanted attention, I scan the room frantically until I meet a pair of startling blue eyes. These eyes are kind, supportive, understanding and patient. The owner of the spell-binding eyes gives me an encouraging nod and a soft smile, and I can feel my racing heart slow down, calming me, as my whole body relaxes with a kind of inner peace that only he can provide.

Bracing myself with a deep breath, I continue, "My name is Elena Gilbert. I'm twenty-one years old and I am a survivor of physical and emotional abuse."

It all started with a single word.


That was all it took for my boyfriend of two years to lose his temper. I watched in surprise as Mason gritted his teeth, his hands in fists beside him, eyes blood-shot from the alcohol he had consumed throughout the evening. I could see the disappointment in his stare, judging me for the single-worded denial. For a moment there, I didn't recognize the man in front of me.

I vaguely recalled what happened next as it was too fast for my mind to comprehend; I was slammed backwards against the front door, his fingers wrapped around my neck in a death grip as he exhaled roughly against my face, his alcohol-breath nearly gagging me. I could feel the doorknob digging into my spine as I struggled to draw in air through my constricted airways, my eyes blurring with tears at the unprovoked attack.

"Mason," I managed to croak out with my last ounce of breath, and then as quickly as he lost control, his fingers released my throat, allowing me to gulp in deep breaths. I watched warily as his face veered from anger to horror within the time it took for my lungs to work again and in an instant, he was back to the man I had fallen in love with again; curly light brown hair, kind blue eyes and square jaw.

"Oh God, Elena," he choked out, regret evident in his eyes as they looked me over for signs of bruises. "I'm so sorry, babe. I don't know what came over me. Are you okay?" This time, his hands were gentle when he laid them on my neck, tilting my head up to inspect where he held me so tightly against the door earlier.

Of course I wasn't okay. I was just thrown violently against a doorknob and had the breath choked out of me by my boyfriend on his birthday. The day was twice as special since it was also our second anniversary of us being a couple and even though I was reluctant, Mason had convinced me to go out to a bar with a bunch of his colleagues. They were rowdy, wild, drunk and had a tendency to stare at me as if I was a prize to be won, which in turn sparked off the jealousy that led to this moment in the first place.

As eager as he was to prove to his 'friends' that I belonged to him, Mason began to paw at me drunkenly right in front of them, silencing my objections with sloppy kisses and wandering hands. It took all of my strength to push him away long enough to mumble some excuses to the watching crowd and pulled him towards the exit to flag down a taxi to take us home.

I wasn't the type that was comfortable with public displays of affection, but apparently, he had no such reservation, as proven when he began to slide his hands under the hem of my skirt while pressing his lips along my neck as I struggled against him, ever mindful of the watchful eyes of the taxi driver through the rearview mirror. I had to slap his hands away and promised to pick up where we left off once we reached home for him to cease and desist, and I was grateful for the brief respite as the journey continued without any further issues.

To say that I was upset over the fact that Mason was drunk was an understatement. He had always had trouble holding his liquor and whenever he became inebriated, it usually didn't bode well for me. I was always the recipient of his angry verbal tirades or his rougher sexual treatments that bordered on pain rather than pleasure. The morning-afters were the worst; Mason in a good mood was the perfect boyfriend, but Mason in a bad mood suffering from a major hangover was borderline psychotic. I had learnt my lesson and usually stayed out of his way or just became as agreeable as possible. Sometimes, even that pissed him off.

So, when the taxi dropped us off at the front lawn of the house I shared with Mason for the past year, I stalked angrily into the house with a swaying drunk right behind me. The moment we entered through the front door, he proceeded to spin me around, planting his lips against mine, perfectly oblivious to the fact that I was attempting to break free from his hold. And then I uttered that one word that prompted the start of the nightmare that was my life from that point on, if only I'd realized it at the time.

If only.

"I'm sorry, Elena. I just wanted you so badly that I didn't realize my own strength," Mason whispered when I failed to respond to his earlier question, his arms wrapped around me, making me wince slightly when they brushed against the tender spot where the doorknob had hit the small of my back as he began to kiss away the tears that ran down my cheeks unknowingly. My heart squeezed painfully at the opposing thoughts in my head; one, was confusion over his sudden violent outburst and the other, was his tenderness right after, genuinely apologetic and repentant over scaring me the way he did.

"I love you, babe. I didn't mean to hurt you. Please, I love you," he murmured achingly, and just like that, hearing his declaration of love for me, I forgave him.

That was my first mistake.

The second time it happened, barely 3 months since the first incident, I was convinced that it was completely my fault. Mason had had an extremely bad day at the office after losing one of his major accounts, which earned him an earful from his boss, and I kept on pushing and pushing until he snapped.

Granted, I may have had a good reason for getting on his case; it was my best friend Caroline Forbes' birthday party that night and he hadn't yet made any commitment to confirm his attendance. I had been reminding him constantly for a month or so before, but he seemed to conveniently forget or changed the subject. I suppose it was due to the fact that they didn't get along that well…okay, Care may have hated him from the start, but he was my boyfriend, and we even lived together, so as my best friend, she had to at least tolerate him, right?

While, she did, Mason made no such effort. Caroline had been calling throughout the day, wanting to know if we could make it in time for the party thrown by her boyfriend, Tyler Lockwood, who just so happened to be Mason's nephew. So I waited, not too patiently for him to get home from work, only to find him scowling at me as soon as he walked through the door.

"Hey, babe," I greeted when he sank down onto the couch next to me. "Hurry up and get ready. It's almost time to go," I reminded yet again as I pulled my three-month old boots on. They were a gift from Mason after our previous fight that ended up with me having a doorknob shaped bruise on my back.

"Go where?" Mason asked sulkily, leaning back with his eyes closed against the backrest, oblivious to my gaping mouth as I stared at him in disbelief. I couldn't believe that he forgot again!

I released an exasperated sigh, crossing my arms as I told him, "To Caroline's birthday party. The one I've been reminding you about for a month."

"Was that tonight?" he asked, his eyes still closed, not even moving an inch from his previous position.

I had to admit; that question of his frustrated the hell out of me. "Yes, Mason! It's tonight and we're going to be late if you don't get up and get ready now. I don't want to be late."

"I don't feel like it. So, guess that settles it," he said curtly, not even bothering to look at me.

"Mason, come on! Stop wasting time! We have to leave in like ten minutes. Come on," I pulled at his arm playfully, hoping that it would be successful in getting him off his butt, but my efforts were in vain when he roughly pulled it away, throwing me an angry glare. Well, the good news was that his eyes were finally open. The bad news was they didn't look too happy with me.

"Just leave me the fuck alone, dammit!" he snapped suddenly, the tension in his face evidently displayed. "God, if I knew you were going to be such a nagging bitch, I'd have gone to the bar with the guys!"

That shut me up pretty quickly. Firstly, I did not 'nag', and secondly, if he was okay with drinking in a bar, he could have gone to Caroline's party at the Grille which had a bar! Also, he called me a bitch!

"That was uncalled for, Mason," I said quietly, feeling hurt at being the recipient of the foul mood he was in for whatever reason. "I'm just asking you to be supportive and make an appearance at my best friend's birthday party. There's a bar there, and you can ask your friends to meet you there if you want to," I compromised instead of getting into a fight with him when we were already running late.

"Just give it a rest, will you? I'm tired and I just had a fucking hell of a day at work, and the last thing I need right now is the idea of spending the next few hours with your blonde bimbo of a friend who should have her lips stapled shut! I also don't appreciate your condescending tone; as if I needed your permission to spend time with my friends!" With that, Mason lurched up from the couch to stalk into the kitchen, pulling the door of the fridge open so hard that the door swung open to crash onto the wall beside it.

I watched helplessly while he removed several cans of beer from the fridge, and then with the other hand, slammed the door shut, hard enough that I could hear bottles and jars rattling within. He kept an eye on me as he walked back towards me, still frozen on the couch, while he took a long swig of beer right from the can.

"What, so you're just gonna sit there, judging me the entire night for not attending a little party?" he asked when I didn't respond to his reprimand.

I decided to declare peace, not wanting to rile him up further with a defensive statement that was at the forefront of my mind. "Look, why don't you stay home and relax and we'll talk about your day when I get back later?" I suggested with a small smile, hoping that this would be the end of the one-sided fight. Suddenly, the memory of his last violent outbursts came to mind, the force of my spine being slammed against the door knob echoing in my head.

"You're still going?" he burst out in disbelief, the half-empty beer can stilled in his hand.

I nodded, standing up to grab my purse before he could stop me. "Well, yeah. I mean, you don't want to, so I'll just drive there alone and-"

I was unable to finish my sentence, because the next thing I knew, I was being shoved into the console table where I left my purse from behind, my chest connecting painfully with the sharp edge of the surface where I landed, sending me sprawling in a heap on the floor, the breath knocked out of me as my purse and its contents spilled around my prone body. I was numb with shock for a moment, my mind incapable of processing anything beyond the fact that the pain was excruciating.

"You're such a selfish bitch sometimes, Elena! I needed comfort and a sympathetic ear tonight and all you can talk about is some fucking party and had the cheek to use my car without even bothering to ask for permission, I might add!" Mason raged down at me, his face red with fury. "I let you live in my house because you had nowhere else to go, and paid for every God-damn thing because you're flat-out broke and now you expect to run off to a party in my car, without the decency to even consider my feelings, you ungrateful brat!"

This time, I saw it coming. I saw it but I was still powerless to stop it. It was as if I was having an out-of-body experience, watching as he picked me up bodily from the floor, his palm connecting with my cheek and the force of it sent me back down to the floor. It seemed as if it should hurt more, the way he had applied his full body strength behind the attack, but it didn't. I didn't feel a thing. I must have been in shock, and oddly enough, I was grateful for it.

"That's right! You stay quiet down there and think about what you've done. You've said enough earlier!" he continued and spat on me, his anger gaining momentum as he yelled at me. "Fuck this, you're not even worth my time," he muttered, walking away from me, and then I heard his footsteps retreating further away, followed by the sound of the front door slamming shut.

I laid there on the floor, faced downwards, my palms flat on the coarse carpet, listening intently for the sound of him returning. The sound of the familiar roar of his engine registered in my brain, and then I heard his tires squealing and then he sped away, bringing peace into the night again.

I didn't know how long time had passed as I laid there, frozen, trying to breathe without worsening the sharp pain in my chest. It could have been mere minutes, or even hours; I lost all track of time until I was brought back into the present when the chorus of 'Call Me Maybe' rang out from my phone. I contemplated ignoring it, but it could be Caroline, wondering where I was and the last thing I needed was for her to be worried enough to drag Tyler all the way to the house to check on me.

I lifted my heavy head slowly from the floor, ignoring the now stinging pain on my left cheek and searched for my fallen phone, which luckily had landed within two feet from me when it spilled out from my purse earlier from the impact. Sure enough, it was Caroline, and I cleared my throat before answering, hoping that my wheezing was not evident through the phone.

"H-hello?" I managed to croak out, the vibrations of my voice sending shooting pain through my chest.

I could make out that the party was in full swing, judging from the loud noises in the background before her voice came through the speaker, raised loud enough to be heard over the racket at the Grille. "Elena? Where are you? Are you on the way with Mr. Surfer dude?" her anxious voice asked with a sarcastic undertone.

"I'm sorry, Care, but we can't make it. I-I'm sick," I replied in a soft murmur, curling into a ball right there on the carpet from the intense pain. Knowing my best friend, she wouldn't let it go just like that; no, she had to make some wise crack at Mason's expense and dig further. I hated her at that moment.

"Sick of Mason?" Caroline teased in a hopeful tone of voice. "Well it's about time, Elena! You should've known that your crazy infatuation with Mr. I-Have-Pecs-and-Abs-That-Could-Rival-The-Cast-of-Jersey-Shore would have ended sometime! It only took you like, what….twenty seven months before you finally realized that the only brain he has is in his pants, but it was bound to happen sooner or later. Come out and celebrate!"

At any other occasion, I would have made a witty retort, but seeing as I had trouble breathing, I had no choice but to keep the chit-chat to an absolute minimum. "I-I'm heading to bed. Happy…birthday, Care," I gasped out and without waiting for a reply, I disconnected the call and turned the phone off, hoping that she would get the hint that I didn't want to be disturbed if she happened to call back after that rather abrupt ending.

I pressed my hands against the throbbing in my chest, certain that it was, at the very least, black and blue at the moment. My cheek felt warm and swollen, too, and I realized that the shock was wearing off, meaning that the pain would considerably worsen pretty soon. I experienced a wave of nausea and a dizzy spell, probably from the lack of breath, and I was barely able to thank God for a brief reprieve as I started to lose consciousness.

It was a welcomed change. It meant that I could no longer feel any pain, whether physically or emotionally. The last image that I saw before my eyes closed was the one where Mason's eyes….. scared the crap out of me.


The house was dark when I regained consciousness, just briefly but enough to feel myself being lifted up by a pair of strong arms, the very ones that caused the unbearable amount of pain coursing in my chest and face at that moment. I was being carried through the house, and then my body was set down onto a soft surface; the bed. The next thing I knew, I was covered under a blanket, and then a warm body pressed itself against me, gathering me close against a hard chest.

Belatedly, I realized that there was a soft murmur near to my ear, followed by a pair of soft lips pressing against the back of my head, almost lovingly. But I knew what those lips were also capable of; harsh, hurtful words, designed to cause as much pain as possible, as if it were a knife being plunged into my heart.

Before my mind and body shut down to protect itself again, I could have sworn that I heard the words, "I'm sorry, babe. I'm so sorry. I love you."

It was the same song, same lyrics, but a different tune.


When I woke up again, it was light outside the windows. The early sun was streaming in, the curtains billowing from the light breeze that swept over me. It was like every other morning…except it wasn't.

For one thing, I felt as if I had Thor's hammer on my chest, my body breaking out in sweat and my heart was racing. For another, Mason was gazing down at me with an expression of concern, his hands holding mine as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Thank God you're awake! I was worried sick!" he declared, his eyes perusing the length of my body, lingering on the cheek that felt tender and swollen. Lying there on the bed beside him, I really had no idea how to react to this man who seemed like his normal, doting self when I knew perfectly well what he was capable of. Looking up at him then, signs of distress and worry on his face, I couldn't quite convince myself that the man in front of me was the same cruel, angry and violent man from the previous night.

Was it some kind of split personality disorder that popped up out of nowhere, or did he have aggressive tendencies all along, a part that he had kept hidden from me for so long? I had known Mason for almost three years; first, as friends, and then as my boyfriend, so why did this abusive nature just suddenly make itself known now? Was it something that I did wrong? Did I drive him to this?

Maybe I had taken him for granted, because he was right; we started living together when I could no longer afford rent for my parents' apartment ever since they died in a car accident right after I started college. They didn't even have medical or life insurance, so I started living on whatever savings they had left, until the money just wasn't there anymore. I was nineteen years old, broke, with no family.

Mason was the only cloud with a silver lining for me then. I would have been lost without him, to be perfectly honest. He was sweet, kind, caring and funny; all the things that a girl wanted in a man.

He came into my life at a time when I desperately needed someone to rely on. He saved me. He gave me a roof over my head and even paid the remaining of my college tuition fees. To do all that, well, he must have loved me, right? Why else would he do that, take care of me and provide for me if he didn't care about me? I owed him so much that I couldn't even begin to pay my dues.

Perhaps he had some stress at work that he didn't want to burden me with. That would explain his short fuse lately. Perhaps I should've been more understanding, more patient and more attentive to his moods, so that he didn't bottle everything up inside that must have caused the episode last night. We had to work things out, somehow, someway; I had to find a way to fix him, to fix us, so that we could go back to how we were. I owed him that much.

"Elena, please talk to me, babe," Mason pleaded, his fingers cupping my tender cheek, making me wince as I hastily turned my face away to avoid contact, and the effort it took to make that slight adjustment made me almost want to scream out in pain. But I couldn't scream, because it would take too much effort and energy.

"Does it still hurt? God, I didn't know my own strength, you know, I just…I swear to you, Elena, I didn't mean to go off on you like I did. I'm so sorry, babe," he breathed out in anguish as he climbed onto the bed beside me and gathered me in his arms, holding me, comforting me from the horrors that he himself evoked. His touch worsened the pain; it made me wish that I was dead. Tears squeezed out of my closed eyes.

In an instant, his arms tightened around me, as if he could absorb my pain into his own body. "I know I hurt you, babe, I know. I don't know what happened, it was like I lost control and became a whole other person. I was so angry, but I didn't know why. I'm sorry. I promise that I will never do that to you ever again. Never," he whispered against my ear, his lips peppering soft kisses on my shoulder and neck, the way he usually did whenever we woke up together during weekends. I wanted to beg that he stopped touching me, but I couldn't speak or even move. I felt weaker with every second that passed.

And then the doorbell rang, causing Mason to stiffen beside me. It rang again, and then we both heard four persistent raps against the timber veneer of the front door.


Had to be her. Only she could have made her knockings sounded impatient.

"Dammit," Mason cursed softly, his eyes now worried as they studied my pale face, a sharp contrast to the redness of the left cheek. "Babe, please don't say anything, okay? I don't want outsiders to know about our fight. I'll send Caroline away," he said anxiously and then he hurried downstairs.

By then, I was already drifting in and out of consciousness, vaguely registering two sets of voices that sounded like they were bickering endlessly, and then they seemed closer and louder. The next thing I knew, I heard my best friend's voice right beside me, the shrillness of her tone betraying the panic she felt.

"Oh my God! What happened?" Caroline announced as she ran her fingers over my forehead and then my cheek. I must have drifted off again because when I came to, Mason was arguing with her.

"….she just needs to rest, that's all! Why can't you just leave it well enough alone?" he argued in frustration.

I heard Caroline's footsteps moving towards where his voice came from and I struggled to open my eyes, but they were too heavy. It was also increasingly hard to even breathe. It felt as if I was being held underwater and drowned.

"Listen, asshole! You can either take Elena to the hospital right now, or I'm calling an ambulance! Look at her, Mason! She's turning blue! I don't think she can even breathe….."

Darkness overtook me again, and this time, I didn't want to wake up anymore. Ever.

"…..blunt force trauma…rib fracture caused…..small puncture to her lung…..causing her lung to collapse…slow bleed….eventually accumulated enough to drown her in her own bodily fluids…respiratory problem…..lack of oxygen sent her into shock….explains the cyanosis…."

A female voice I didn't recognize broke through my hazy thoughts as I woke up yet again. I didn't understand a word of what was said, having only caught bits and pieces of the conversation, but I began to realize that I was in a hospital, thanks to the sound of a beeping machine next to me. My first thought was, 'Shit! Why aren't I dead?'

"Despite what he said, I don't think it was an accident and there was no way in hell that the trauma to her chest was caused by a fall! She was turning blue by the time I got there, and that asshole didn't even want me to bring her to the hospital! In fact, he tried to send me away! If that doesn't indicate that he's responsible for what happened to Elena, then I don't know what does," another voice I knew belonged to Caroline said, sounding upset and worried. I knew her so well, that I could always tell what she was feeling just by her tone of voice alone. Right now, she was terribly anxious, with a healthy dose of anger directed at my boyfriend, whom I assumed was not in the room with us.

"It all certainly seems suspicious, and that's why Mer brought me in on the case," someone else replied; a male, this time. "So, can we know for sure that Lockwood did this to her? Or did the injuries come from a bad fall like he said? "

That male voice sounded like it belonged to a young guy, although not one that I was familiar with. It certainly wasn't Tyler, I knew that, but he seemed to be someone who was important enough to be in the room with Caroline and the female since they were talking about my medical condition. Wasn't there such a thing as doctor-patient confidentiality agreement?

"We can't really know for sure from the chest injury, but judging from the handprint on her cheek, I'd say with a hundred percent certainty that she did not fall onto a palm with that kind of force," the other lady said with complete certainty. Her statement left me wondering what sort of state I was in; was I disfigured? Did I have a Mason-shaped hand print on the side of my face where he slapped me? Did I still have a face? My worry and alarm escalated at the thought.

"I'm going to go ahead and make a judgment call on this one; he abused her, plain and simple. Ms. Forbes," the male voice addressed my best friend, and I could hear the sound of shuffling feet from a distance. "You told me that Ms. Gilbert and Lockwood were supposed to show up at your party last night, and the last time that you spoke to her before the event, was at five thirty evening?" He paused, and I assumed that Care nodded in the affirmative since he went on after that.

"She sounded perfectly fine then, and then when she didn't show up, you called her again later at night, and she sounded raspy, right? As if she couldn't breathe properly." Another pause and then a scoff. "I think it's safe to assume that whatever happened to Ms. Gilbert happened between your phone conversations, and if she had indeed fallen and hurt herself, wouldn't she have told you about it when you spoke to her the second time?"

"I think you're right, Damon," the unidentified female voice said with a sigh. I would assume that she was a doctor or a nurse in the hospital since she was spewing a bunch of medical terms earlier when I just woke up. Was she the 'Mer' person this Damon guy was referring to?

I heard more shuffling, and then, "Maybe I need to have another chat with Lockwood, and try to poke holes in his earlier statement . If I find anything even remotely suspicious with his story, I can haul him before a judge faster than he can raise his fucking hands against a woman again. This kind of useless filth does not deserve to breathe another breath of fresh air!"

Did the male voice belong to a cop? I panicked a little at the thought of Mason being in trouble with the police. Granted, he may have lost his temper and control with me, but I didn't want to send my own boyfriend behind bars! Besides, he promised that he would never do that again to me, and I wasn't saying that I believed him, but we needed to work it out ourselves, not the cops!

I decided that it was time to say something, if only I could move or speak. I had something covering my mouth; an oxygen mask, maybe? I tried to pry my eyes open, but they still felt heavy, as if they were stuck together with glue. Belatedly, I also felt something that protruded from the side of my chest, taped securely in place. My hand twitched a little, earning me a small victory cheer in my head for the slight movement, and then I focused all my strength to inch my fingers towards the offensive item.

The increased beeping sound of the machine beside me must have brought my awareness to the attention of Caroline and the others, because I heard some footsteps hurrying towards me, and then a warm hand covered mine, inhibiting my progress to remove the damn unidentified item. It was uncomfortable and the fact that I didn't know what it was positively drove me nuts. I noticed a slight tingle on the skin where it was touched, as if I was being zapped with electricity, the way one would with a shopping cart or a car door.

"Oh no, you don't, Ms. Gilbert. No touchy," a voice reprimanded gently. To my surprise, it was the male voice, instead of the female one that I expected. Up close, I could smell his spicy aftershave and hear the velvety smoothness of his voice. He sounded heavenly; I didn't know what other way to describe it.

On the other side of the bed, I felt someone approach the bed, and then something tickled my face; someone's hair, I thought. "You should listen to Damon, Elena. He's a total hottie, and he has the most amazing eyes. You two would make beautiful babies together," the ever-familiar voice whispered in my ear, followed by a soft peck on my cheek.

Hello, bleak world. Have you met my best friend, the most optimistic person I had ever known, even if she had the world's worst comedic timing ever?

Despite the severity of the situation that brought me to the hospital, I had to choke back a laugh at the inappropriateness of Caroline, resulting in me making a strange noise of distress in my throat from swallowing back an ill-timed giggle. Surprisingly, I didn't feel any pain from my efforts to remain still. The doctor must have prescribed me some pretty impressive painkillers.

"Hey, hey, Ms. Gilbert….Elena. You'll be safe right here. I'll be watching over you while you get well and recover. I'll make sure that nobody lays a hand on you again. You have my word, and Damon Salvatore's words are never broken," his soft voice said in my other ear, and when he spoke, it was as if there was surround sound in my head, so clear was his whispered promise to me.

Somehow, this stranger's words comforted me, and managed to calm me down; successfully distracting me from the annoying foreign item I was anxious to remove. I could feel my heart rate slowing down, indicated by the beeping machine, and I noted with interest that he had kept his hand on mine, all the while.

Somehow, someway, the gentle skin contact reassured me, making me feel protected and safe. With that comforting thought, I drifted off again.

This will be a short story, maybe about 10 chapters, give or take. It is a message that I'm sending out, that you're only a victim if you allow yourself to be. I chose the title A Woman's Worth because in such situations, women really does feel worthless at times, further amplified by their supposed loved ones who reinforce this belief.

Yes, this is a DE story, but not only that; the core of the story is a woman who finds strength in herself to put a stop to an abusive relationship. It's also a lesson in love, about how it's better to walk away from SOME form of love that hurts you instead of protecting you.

Read and review, because then I know that I'm heard. Thank you!