Chapter 1

This must be a nightmare. It has to be. Yet something tells me that I need to escape. I can't breathe and the sun is burning me but I need to keep running. I try not to look behind me in order to keep pushing forward. My legs are tired but I can't stop. I can feel him behind me. I can feel his stare burning in my back and the terror flowing in my veins. My heart is pounding on my chest and my lungs are fighting for air. I cannot stop. He is close and I know he is here to finish what he started. His panting reminds me of that horrific night. Flashes of memories assault my brain as he continues to chase me. The smell of blood, my dad screaming in agony. My mom screaming. Laughter. The sharp sound of bones being broken. More screaming. Gun shot. My dad is dead. Laughter. Several sets of limbs restraining me. Panting and muted cursing. My mom begging. Another gunshot. Her blood spilling on the floor. More laughter. Cheers of encouragement as the burly man inside me beats the innocence out of me. Pain. My puppy barking in its crate. A different set of hands on me. More pain. The smell of drunken breath. His face looking at my ravaged body with a smirk and his rough voice telling me I was a good fuck for all. Gunshot. Warmth. More laughter. Sirens. Hurried footsteps. Darkness.

The memories make my stomach twist and my body shake. A tiny voice in my head tells me that I need to focus. I look at my surroundings. Main Street is two blocks away. Keep going Isabella! My mom's voice yells at me. I know it's impossible but my mind continues to listen. "You must fight baby. Promise me." Her voice pleads again and this gives me a surge of adrenaline that keeps my legs moving. I can see people ahead and I know he won't hurt me there. I push my legs forward with everything I got and I smile because I know that I am going to win again. He will not finish me.

As soon as I reach Main Street he disappears. I look behind me and I can only see the alley but I know he is close. I stop in the middle of the street and feel the need to vomit. I bent over and let the nausea take over me. I feel the disgusted stares of people but I don't care. I am safe again. He cannot touch me in front of all these witnesses. Once my lungs begin function I try to calm my nerves by breathing in and out slowly. A lady standing at the bus stop is eyeing me warily so I keep walking as I breathe. I'll be home soon. Suddenly I remember that I was not alone when I saw him walking towards me at the park. I look around me and I don't see him. I run back towards the alley and frantically yell his name. Nothing. Dorito is gone. He took him. I hear myself scream as the darkness envelops me.

I wake up in the hospital. I look around to see Carmen sleeping uncomfortably in a chair. My mouth is dry and I am parched. I try to remember why I am here but my mind is hazy. There is a faint knock on the door and a nurse walks into the room carrying some sort of equipment. She notices I am awake and asks me how I am. I try to answer but I am so confused I don't know what to respond. Carmen awakens and walks towards me. As soon as her hand reaches me I begin to cry. I am safe. She's got me. I hug her fiercely and I allow myself to cry.

The nurse walks out of the room in search of my doctor. Slowly I begin to remember what happened. I was sitting on a bench talking to Dorito when I noticed a man crossing the street walking towards me. He was far but I suddenly felt every hair in my body raise and my stomach clenched. It was him. My memory is fuzzy but as the episode replays in my mind, my heart begins to ache. I know I was safe inside the hospital so I cannot make sense of the pain in my heart. Carmen holds me tightly as she whispers reassuring words in my ear. "We will find him Bella I promise but you need to be strong baby girl. You need to stay focused baby" she says softly but I can hear her breath hitch and feel her tears on my neck "You cannot let this take you away from us again. He needs you Bella, we all do. You just have to stay with us so we can look for him. Can you do that for him Bella?

Her words confuse me, my mind is swirling while trying to make sense of things she is saying. The ache in my heart began to crush me as I suddenly remember the empty alley. "Dorito is gone!" I shriek "he took him!" My mind is now trying to catch up as all the memories flood in. The park, the alley, running, my mom's voice… "Carmen he's got him!" She holds me still as I try to get up from the bed. Her voice is louder as she begs me to calm down. "How can you ask me to calm down? He took Dorito!" I scream loudly "Bella, honey you need to stay in reality baby. You are doing so good baby don't give up now" She says in a tone that sounds a bit frustrated. "Carmen I am in reality! He took my dog!" My breath is shallow and I feel dizzy but I need to get out of here. I have to find him. Two male nurses come into the room and hold me down as I try to get up and run out of there. I kick them as they both carry me back to the bed. "Why are you doing this to me Carmen? Please tell them to let me go find him! We have to find him before he kills him!" I keep fighting as hard as I can but I know I'll lose as soon as the clear liquid the nurse just injected to my IV enters my body. I pant and beg as much as I can but the second nurse manages to handcuff me to the bed. As the medication enters my system my eyes feel heavy and my body becomes numb. I look up to Carmen trying my best to implore her with my eyes but she just grabs my handcuffed hand and run her fingers through my hair. Her eyes are swimming in tears but she tries to keep her voice leveled as she whispers "stay in reality Bella. You know he cannot hurt you again. He is in jail. They all are. You are safe baby girl." Her voice shakes as she pleads wholeheartedly "Stay with us. You are doing great! I don't know what happened that caused you to feel threatened but I promise you, You are safe and no one will hurt you again" she looks at my eyes and tells me that Alice and Rose are out there looking for Dorito and they will not rest until he comes home. "We will find him baby but you need to help us" she continues talking but her voice fades as I slowly succumb to darkness.