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We Meet Again (pt. 4)

Part 4 of 5: Broken

By J. L. GreenPublished about a month ago 9 min read
We Meet Again (pt. 4)
Photo by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

The aftermath of that email was an absolute shitshow of a masterpiece...for Derek.

I wasn't there for it, and I will forever be sad that I was sick at home instead, but apparently Cheryl called him into her office and issued him a write-up for harassment for the text messages alone. She let him know that they would be investigating all claims. As a bonus, he, in no uncertain terms, had to leave me alone or face severe consequences. He was also demoted to an assistant manager position on a completely different floor; the ultimate power no longer lies with him. (He had to have been fuming!)

To say I almost passed out from the influx of emotions when I came back to work and saw his office was empty is an understatement. (I almost had to excuse myself outside so I could scream "thank you!" to the Heavens.) I don't know which floor he's on now and, frankly, I don't care, as long as he leaves me alone.

Heading to my cubicle that morning was like taking an Olympic-level victory lap; I can finally work without the shadow of him casted over me.

~~~~

The full investigation takes roughly a week. I'm sure it probably would have taken longer, but the email I sent had such solid evidence of his harassment toward me that they didn't have to dig too much.

The HR lady, Karen, and Cheryl spoke to several of my coworkers to see what kind of manager Derek had been and how he handled issues.

For the most part, he was a good manager. To everyone else. He was funny, he was kind, he would have thrived in our office if he hadn't made it his goal to destroy me.

He was so well-regarded in fact, that I'm now the office pariah for getting the good-guy eye-candy taken away. I don't care too much what anyone else thinks, I ignore the sneers and murmurs. If they'd experienced even a fraction of the shit he's put me through, they'd be singing a different tune.

Besides, Natalie and Jericho are on my side and they hold nothing back when Karen asks if they noticed if Derek treated me differently. Each one was interviewed for ten minutes separately and, while I watched through the window, Jerry managed to stay calm but Natalie clearly got heated from the wide swing of her arms.

When Cheryl and Karen finally pull me aside for my personal account, I completely break. Every relevant issue he's caused in this life is brought to light. Taking my one of my highest performing accounts, little comments throughout the day, loitering by my desk knowing fully well he makes me uncomfortable. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried a bit. I tried valiantly not to, but I couldn't. I blame the remnants of seven-hundred years worth of torment for the breakdown.)

They ask if I ever asked him directly to leave me alone, or voiced my discomfort. Did I use those exact words? No. But he knew damn well I wanted to be left alone. So I tell them yes, I spoke to him about it and he disregarded me.

When we were done I had thought that the crying didn't help my case, but it seemed to have swayed the two ladies. They agreed that I had been harassed repeatedly even after making it known to him and they assured me that they would take care of it so he wouldn't bother me again.

If only they knew.

Even if they can truly shield me in this life, they can't in any others. But things are different now.

I may be a woman, but I don't have to just roll over and submit to his torment. I can speak up. I can find friends who will stand by me. I can do more than endure...I can live.

*** Author's note: Feel free to finish reading here. I will be continuing on and plan to end with a part 5 epilogue. ~~Spoiler alert~~ I will make this have a happy ending. But before that, what comes next may be triggering due to mentions of violence and recovery.***

~~~~

Not having Derek around is like being able to breathe again after a prolonged illness. I'm smiling more, working quicker. I'm just at ease. My friends have noticed that I seem "lighter", whatever that means.

I still need to thank them for telling me to report him. This never would have happened if they hadn't. Not when I'm still so stuck in the old ways.

One Thursday afternoon during peak trudge-through-work time, I take a break and pop down to the corner cafe so I can surprise them with a drink and snacks.

While waiting at a table mindlessly scrolling through my phone, a shiver trembles down my spine the way it does when the shower is too cold and you step in too early. Mother's voice (my original mother, whom I've never forgotten despite the many years) echoes in my head.

"Someone's walked over your grave."

"You bitch." This voice is real, deep, and chilling.

Derek.

I spin to see him lording over me. Part of me wants to run the second I meet his furious eyes, the other is emboldened by how this life has turned in my favor; my body settles for flinching away.

"Hello Derek." I turn my attention back to my phone. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're not supposed to be around me. And calling me a 'bitch' is another form of harassment, isn't it?"

I glance up at the baristas, who are watching with wide eyes. Quick as a whip, he snatches my phone and throws it across the lobby. From the corner of my eye, I catch the baristas shift and edge toward the back where an 'Employee's Only' door sits.

"You think you're so smart, don't you?" Derek seethes, stealing my full attention. "You think that getting me demoted is going to save you?"

I want to shrivel in on myself and disappear, like I've always done. Just give up and roll over, because fighting him is hard. But I'm so tired of doing that. I'm tired of him in general.

Today, right now, I want to be brave.

Spinning in my chair to face him, I try to look as unamused as possible and say, "Actually, I think it's pathetic that you can't do anything else with your life and that you constantly obsess over mine."

It's the first time I've ever spoken to him in such a way and his eyes gloss over in surprise. Taking advantage of his shock, I stand up, nearly meeting him eye-to-eye if I wasn't so short.

"Tell me, Derek...Do you even remember why you hate me? Why it's your life's goal to ruin mine? Because I don't."

His focus snaps-to and his eyes flicker to the side, searching and scouring his memories for the incident that started this accursed soul bond. Heaven knows I've done the same. But as time goes on and more lives are lived (and forfeited to his cruelty), those early years become...shady. Hazy.

"You started this! I'm sure of it," he says adamantly.

My brows pinch together. "Are you? Because I've never started it, in any of our lives. There are several I've even tried to issue a truce. It's always been you; Derek, Dr. Johnson, Father Adam, Charles the Crusader. Fate may be the one bringing us back together, but you are the one who lets the hatred win."

His glare has steadily narrowed to thin accusing slits. When he speaks, his tone is low; a deep rumble of fury.

"How can I not? You are the bane of my existence; the second I meet your eyes, everything else disappears. I have to destroy you. I have to watch your life fall apart. There is no joy in my life, no meaning, until you are gone. I can't change that."

This is the most honest he's ever been with me regarding his part of the soul bond. And it is horrifying.

I've felt anger when I see him for the first time again, how could I not with everything he's done, but nothing to that extent. My soul's purpose is not to harm him; not the way his is.

"Jesus, Derek," I whisper. Behind his shoulder, I spot Harold and Jack (the building's security guards) rushing over to the cafe. Jack is a bit younger and more spry, so he's heading the charge, but they're not moving too fast.

Derek hunches, bringing himself closer and catching me by surprise. That chill of fear creeps back up in me.

"You get it now, Everly? Or should I say Abigail, Judith the Witch, Sister Mary, Her Royal Highness?"

They are almost here, but they don't have the hustle they should. Derek seems enraged enough to strangle me right here.

"It doesn't matter who you are or how much you think you've won. You haven't. You will never win."

I let out a shaky breath and tell him, just before the two arrive to intervene, "I'm not trying to win. I'm just trying to live."

~~~~

It's been a week since Derek was very publicly (and very satisfyingly) fired then banned from the building. I could hear the screaming from my cubby four floors up; his threats to sue the company, that it's not the last they've seen of him, that he can't believe they let "that bitch" (me, I assume) get away with this. It's almost as comical as it is sad.

As much as I wanted to, I didn't try to see him in person as he was forcefully removed from the building. Though I did crowd around the window with everyone else to watch his walk of disgrace to his fancy sports car.

There were murmurs of confusion and astonishment from the others, the one's who'd really liked him; they didn't realize he had such a temper. And when our manager presented me with a new phone on behalf of the company (not that they needed to. They did a damn good job handling the situation once they realized the severity of it) there were several raised eyebrows and scoffs.

I decided to quickly put any speculation or rumors to rest by holding up the shattered remains of my old phone and announcing, "I got a new phone because Derek destroyed my old one."

The stink-eye and nasty murmuring seemed to calm after that. Maybe, just maybe...I was telling the truth and Derek had been harassing me. What a thought, huh? But I digress.

Every morning when I walk into work, I pass by the security office and see the mirrored image of Derek's stupid smiling face taped up in their window with the words "retnE toN oD" scribbled across the top in bright red ink, and I get a warm tickle inside.

Things are good. Finally. For once.

The only hiccup to this wonderful life change is that I'm feeling...watched. At my apartment building. At the store. Arriving and leaving work. I don't see Derek, even when I go chasing down aisles or streets, but I just can't shake the feeling.

Maybe I'm paranoid. Well, seven-hundred years is a decent amount of time to build my suspiciousness up anyway. Still, I look to the dark corners and alleys any time I leave a building.

~~~~

Work is running late today. I got bombarded with an influx of calls because our system went down around noon and it wasn't restored until 3pm. Unlike my fellow coworkers, I'm not someone that can leave piles of unfinished business and Cheryl said I can stay late as long as I don't go into overtime. To keep myself from having to rework my scheduled hours too much, I decide to leave at 6pm.

The setting sun burning through the windows is my cue to leave for the evening. I managed to get a lot more work done in the extra two hours than I thought I would.

I exit the building, do the cursory glance of the parking lot, the entryway to the parking lot, all the cars parked near my car, and anyone hiding or trying to act nonchalant. When nothing suspicious ends up on my radar, I start crossing the way toward me car.

The shrill squealing of tires startles me. I first look out to the road, where I'm sure there will be the metallic symphony of a collision, but there is nothing unusual.

Lights pour into the parking lot, illuminating me against the slowly rising dusk. A red flashy sports car is careening into the lot and I don't have to guess. I know damn well it's Derek.

The car is heading straight for me! There's not enough time to move, not enough time to even think or plan. I just have time to react.

Not knowing what else to do, as the front end of the car comes to kiss my hips, I jump. The hood catches my knees, the impact sending me flying ass over tea kettle into the windshield.

The car stops on a dime when it hits the wall of the building. There is nothing keeping me locked in place. When the car stops, I don't.

I know I hit the wall. Then...nothing.

Series

About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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Comments (1)

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Hey, Green, I liked that part.

J. L. GreenWritten by J. L. Green

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