Part 4: Dream Lover

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I took Monday off. I figured being attacked in my own bed, getting punched in the face so hard it cracked my jaw, and then having to spend the night talking to doctors and police meant I could take the day off. Brie emailed my professors, thoughtfully attaching my finished paper, to explain the situation. All of them responded with support and homework assignments.

That old Chumbawamba song kept running through my head, "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down." Yeah, I'd get up again, but today I wanted to sleep. It'd be nice to sleep, but roommates kept checking on me. The boys all looked so downcast, like sad puppies, that it was impossible to be mad at them. Even poor Goose, who was taking today off on account of his massive hangover, checked on me. He'd slept through the whole incident, passed out cold.

When Brie knocked on my door, I finally lost my temper.

"I understand everyone is worried and upset. But I've been up all night, my whole face hurts like a bitch, and I'd really like to get some sleep. Can we put a damn note on my door that says, 'I'm fine, don't knock, go away'? Eddie's been up here three times already today and you know his knee still hurts on stairs. Everyone needs to chill so I can get back to normal."

Brie grinned a bit ruefully, "I know we've been mother hens, but it was a bit scary for us, too. No one ever thought Finn would do something like that or Eddie would never have let him stay here. We're all worried about you because we love you."

"Hmpf, you and Eddie maybe. I love you guys right back, but I really just want to take some of those pain pills and go to bed. Don't make me beg, please?"

Brie rolled her eyes, "The guys all have practice soon. Eddie and I promise to leave you alone so you can get a couple hours of sleep while the house is quiet." She hugged me, hard, before she left.

I popped a couple of my pain pills and climbed into bed. Someone had cleaned up the glass from my broken lamp, but it was odd to have the empty space on my bedside table. I pulled my quilt over my head and tried to turn off my mind so I could sleep. Last night kept replaying, over and over. Waking up to find Finn in my bed, touching me, the pain as he hit me, the fear as he held me down. Other memories came too, Nova throwing Finn off me and helping me up, Fish putting ice on me, the police, the paramedics, the hospital, all of it awful. I was never going to sleep with all of this in my head. Would counting sheep work? I decided to try, deliberately picturing each one in detail, counting backwards from 100.

Sleep claimed me at some point, but the dreams were terrible. I woke, sweating and panicked, before realizing it was a nightmare. When my heart calmed down, I rolled over and went back to sleep. After the third dream, I decided it was a lost cause and got up. A shower would help me relax and make me feel better. I grabbed some clean clothes and opened my door. Nova was sitting in the hallway, his back braced against the wall, with his new laptop next to him.

"What are you doing here?"

Nova pointed over my shoulder. I turned to see Brie had put a sign on my door, just as I had asked. "I didn't want to disturb you. How are you doing?"

It was weird looking down at him. I slid down the wall and sat across from him on the floor. "The nightmares suck and my face really hurts. I thought I'd take a shower. I think it's my third today, but I want to make sure I'm clean. It's like I can still feel Finn on my skin and I can't get clean enough. Does that make any sense?"

Nova nodded, "I can understand that. But you are clean, he's the dirty one. Don't transfer his crap to you, Tess. None of this was your fault." I understood what he was saying. I even believed it. I hadn't asked to be attacked, but I still couldn't get rid of that jerk on my skin.

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