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Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Stripper or Cop? Who's who...
Mistaken Identity - Part 3 by Begin Again
 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: November 4, 2010      Views: 351

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 ABOUT
BEGIN AGAIN 

Begin Again is a resilient "senior citizen". Reinventing and restructuring her life has become almost common place for her.

I love music, books, and sitting by the water. Each of these activities brings a sense of life to me.
- more...

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You haven't seen the last of me ....

His words echoed in her head.

Those words, that face, the past she'd struggled so hard to put behind her. Her world was collapsing, suffocating her. Terror coursed through her veins, fueling her need to run, escape somewhere, any where but here. Fear engulfed her as she ran toward the elevator.

Bill's massive frame lumbered down the hall. His size 12 shoes pounded against the marble floor. His breath came in gulps, but he couldn't stop. He needed to catch Shannon.

Her finger jabbed the elevator button, again and again. It was three floors up and descending.

Oh my God, what if he's on it? Does he remember? Of course, he does!

Her eyes darted from elevator to door, scanning the hallway. She spied the red exit sign at the stairwell entrance. Blinded by tears, she stumbled toward it. Guessing her intentions, an adrenalin surge empowered Bill to reach the exit door at the same exact time. Shannon smashed into him, totally disoriented. Her fists pummeled his chest and arms as she fought for release, but two massive biceps restrained her.

Aware the commotion would draw people from their offices, Bill pulled Shannon into the open stairwell, holding her protectively. They stood there for what seemed like an eternity, clinging to each other, not saying anything. He waited as she struggled to calm down.

When the hysterical sobbing appeared to be ebbing, he offered his handkerchief. After one long, unceremonious blow, she sniffled, "Thank you."

"Damn it, Shannon, what the hell's going on?"

"Please let me go. I'm begging you." She stifled another round of tears. "I can't ... I can't be here."

"Who is this guy? What's he done to you?"

"He ... he tried -" The tears started to flow again and she pressed her face against his shirt. "Why does it matter? Just let me go."

"It matters because I care about you. I want to help, but you've got to tell me what's traumatized you." His cheeks inflated with air which he slowly expelled. "At least give me a clue."

Shannon tipped her face so her bloodshot eyes met his. A tear trickled down her cheek. Bill gently wiped it away. Opening the door, he checked the hallway for prying eyes. Satisfied the coast was clear, he lifted her into his arms and moved swiftly down the hallway to his office.

After placing her on the sofa, he locked the outer door, guaranteeing their privacy. Next, he poured two glasses of scotch and handed one of them to her. The other he downed with one continuous slug. The burn felt good and he poured another, drinking it slower this time. He pulled a chair close to the sofa, lowered his sorely out of shape body into it, and patiently waited for Shannon to speak.

"Oh, Bill-" She closed her eyes, breathing in and out, trying to form the words. "I never ... I thought-"

"Just take your time, Shannon. Nice and slow. Nobody's going to hurt you." He squeezed her hand. "Not while I'm around, that's for sure."

She managed a half-hearted smile.

"That's my girl. Now come on, tell me what's going on so I can help."

"I've never told anyone, not a soul. I thought he'd be in prison for a long, long time."

"Matt Cassandro in prison? Impossible! He's one of the biggest philanthropists in the United States. He donates millions of dollars to charities every year. He's one of the good guys."

"Stop! Stop!" She covered her ears, refusing to listen to rubbish. "He's a liar, a fraud. He's a con man. He's a rapist."

"Honey, I love you with all my heart, but you must be confused. Matt Cassandro couldn't be any of those things."

"I'd never forget his face, Bill. Believe me, I've tried." Shannon sipped the scotch. She hadn't drunk in years, not since he'd destroyed her life.

"Now you're confusing me." Bill's eye brows pinched together. "I thought you never met him."

"I haven't. I mean, he wasn't Matt Cassandro. His real name is Richard Sheath."

Her boss's huge frame bolted forward, almost tipping the chair over. "Sheath! The cop turned rapist. Impossible!"

"I wish." She gnawed at her lower lip. " I tried to put it behind me, but now..."

He picked up her hands, smothering them inside his own. Doubt clouded his eyes. Shannon knew he was struggling to believe her. She couldn't blame him. It was a big pill to swallow even for her.

"It happened almost five years ago, at a girlfriend's bachelorette party. Everyone was extremely intoxicated, including yours truly. One of the girls hired a stripper, a cop. Let's just say, our inhibitions were set free and he eagerly accommodated our whims. He was hot and I was interested, very interested."

She painted a picture of someone else, a girl who no longer existed. She watched Bill's face, realizing how difficult it must be for him to envision "his all-business production assistant" in the way she was describing her.

Hell, I don't even know her. How can I expect him to see me that way.

"I'm not proud of it, but I played the game." She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. Her entire body shuttered as she exhaled.

"Shannon, this can wait. It's upsetting you." He hesitated, obviously torn between her pain and her need to talk. "Are you telling me Cassandro, Sheath, or whatever his name was back then, was a stripper? Wow, what a screen play."

"No, he wasn't the stripper, but because of my actions that night-" A fresh bout of tears flowed.

Bill grabbed a box of Kleenex from a near by table and handed them to her. She wiped her face and stared at the black smudges.

"I must be a fright. Mascara smeared everywhere."

"Don't worry about it, Doll Face. You couldn't ever look bad."

She actually managed a small chuckle. "You're biased and we both damn well know it."


"Maybe a little, but at least you smiled." He sat back in his chair. "Do you want to continue?"

" You have a right to know, after all, you're about to lose your production assistant."

"Whoa ... let's take this one step at a time. You're not going anywhere, if I can help it."

"I'm afraid you can't fix this one. I can't work for him or any where near him. Not after-"

"Okay, sweetheart, this is your big ole teddy bear. Throw it at me. Let it all out, make some sense of this mess."

"Just a minute, Shannon." He walked to his desk and picked up the phone. He quickly gave instructions to the party at the other end, "Hold all my calls. I do not want to be disturbed." He poured two glasses of scotch and returned to his chair. "Okay, now tell me your story."


Shannon tucked her legs under her, folding her skirt tightly around them. She took a long draw on the glass of scotch, felt the burn in her throat, and finally let her memories flood her mind.

"The whole night seems like a bad dream now. At the time, we were just a group of girls letting our hair down. The stripper, well, what can I say, he acted and we reacted. We were just having fun. Nobody was getting hurt ... at least we didn't think so."

"I don't know the exact time, but I know it was late when the party started winding down. Someone called me a cab while I weebled and wobbled down the stairs. The driver pulled to the curb just as I stumbled out the door onto the sidewalk. I slumped into the back seat, gave him my address, and leaned my head against the seat."

"In seconds, the driver started waving his arms, screaming something about American broads being nothing but trouble, especially drunk ones. I started to protest when I saw the flashing blues lights behind us. In my position, all I could see is the familiar blue uniform standing outside the driver's door. The cabby rolled down his window, ranting something no one could understand, and waving his license out the window."

"As soon as the officer could get a word in edge wise, he convinced the driver he was only interested in the passenger. In my drunken state, my common sense didn't exist, only my fantasies. Assuming it was my friendly stripper trying to continue our game, I stepped out, well, actually, fell out of the taxi. I'd caught my high heel on the ripped carpeting. My face unceremoniously slammed into the officer's chest. Two strong arms pulled me to my feet and out of the street. The taxi wasted no time in leaving the scene."

"By the time I realized I was being shoved into an alley and this guy wasn't playing games, alarms started going off in my head. I struggled to free myself, but he easily overpowered me. My sheer blouse shredded like water in his hands. I started to scream. A powerful punch knocked the air of me and I found myself sprawled on the ground. Two stinging slaps across my face for good measure and then he tore off my panties, his fingers pushing inside me."

A woman's voice shrieked from one of the balconies, "What the hell's going on down there? Get a room for God's sake."

"She didn't know it, but she saved me. He put his hands around my throat and threatened to kill me if I opened my mouth. I was terrified. I just lay there, cowering on the ground. He laughed, called me just another stupid whore, and walked away. If he hadn't stopped under the street light to light a cigarette, I would never of had a clear view of his face ... Matt Cassandro's face."

At a lost for words, he simply pulled her into his arms and gently hugged her, whispering, "You poor child, I'm so sorry."

Sobbing, Shannon buried her face. "I was such an idiot."

"You'd had too much to drink. Things got out of hand, but you couldn't have known what was about to follow. Why didn't you report it?"

"I was so ashamed and terrified. He had my purse. He knew where I lived, everything. I just wanted to forget it."

"So how did you find out who he was?"

"Several months later, he made a mistake and was arrested for rape. I followed the trial, praying for a conviction. Five other women came forward and testified. I convinced myself they didn't need me. When he was convicted and sent to prison, I thought the book was closed. I shoved it in the closet, locked the door, and tried to put it behind me. I thought I had until today."

A loud knock at the outer door startled Shannon. Terror ripped across her face. She bolted to a standing position.

"Just a minute." Bill called out. He eased out of the chair and headed into the outer office. Shannon followed on his heels, but he silently motioned for her to stay behind the door.

As he unlocked the door, a female voice apologized, "I'm sorry for disturbing you, Mr. Hayley, but the front desk insisted I deliver the message immediately. A Mr. Cassandro telephoned about a meeting with you and Shannon. He's on his way."

"Thank you, Betty. I appreciate the message." He closed the door and hurried back to his office, just in time to see Shannon's back disappearing through his private entrance door.


"Shannon, wait!" His pleas fell on deaf ears.




























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Author Notes
Thank you KimRoeARt for the use of your photo.
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