Buried Alive

By: Vella Day

Prologue





Tampa, Florida





Present day

Ugly. Scarred. Abused.

Tameka Dorsey dragged her palms down her faded jeans to dry them, hoping the doctor couldn’t smell her sweat as he unwrapped her facial bandages.

He’d promised she’d look normal again. Now, after three weeks of waiting, she’d finally see her new face. No man would hit her again just because she was what her first husband called butt ugly. Too bad she didn’t have the courage to face the man who only married her to be his punching bag. She’d wanted to stand up to him. Wanted to show him she was a survivor and that he hadn’t ruined her as he’d hoped.

“All finished.” The doctor from the free clinic smiled down at her.

She shook her shoulders. “Can I see?”

“In a moment. I want to take a look first.” He lifted the lid to the red biohazard pail and tossed the slightly stained gauze inside. He returned and touched her cheek. His jaw muscle twitched. “What’s this?”

Oh, shit. His voice had dipped a few notches, just like her fiancé Jamal’s had when he became angry.

“What’s what?”

“You have a contusion, a bruise, the size of a quarter on your cheek.”

“I, ah, fell.”

“Jamal hit you again, didn’t he?” A vein pulsed in his forehead.

She flinched. Tameka cast her eyes downward for a moment. “I’m fine. Really.” She glanced up at him, hoping to see the tight lines around his mouth soften.

Wrong.

His eyes narrowed even more. “Didn’t I tell you to leave that bastard?”

He leaned closer. So close in fact, his stale breath raked down her cheek and forced her to shrink back in the reclining chair.

Why was he yelling at her? Doctors weren’t supposed to yell. “Yes, you did, but—”

“How many times have I told you men who abuse others are worthless pieces of shit?”

Spit flew into her face, but she didn’t dare wipe it away without permission. Her first husband had taught her that lesson. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry isn’t good enough.”

“Wh-why do you care?”

“Because I can’t stand to see a woman hurt.” His clenched fists made it seem like he was trying not to hurt her.

Mama always encouraged her to tell the truth. “It was my fault.” Fear sharpened every nerve. “Jamal didn’t mean to hit me. He was real sorry when he learned he was going to be a daddy.”

“You’re pregnant?” His jaw tightened. “Are you sure? The blood tests didn’t show anything. I wouldn’t have operated if I’d known.”

“I just found out.”

The doctor stepped back. “Ta-me-ka.”

What was his problem? “Jamal promised he wouldn’t hit me again now that I’m carrying his baby.”

“Men make a lot of promises they won’t keep. Jamal will never stop abusing you.”

She’d heard all this before from her well-meaning friends, but they didn’t understand how much she loved him and how sorry he was he’d hurt her.

The doctor strode over to a wall cabinet and unlocked the door. His back was toward her and his shoulders were bunched.

Where the hell was the nurse who’d shown her into the room? And why had she left right as the doctor began to remove the bandages? Wasn’t she supposed to stay?

The doctor spun back to her, took three steps, and stabbed her upper arm with a needle. The liquid burned as it raced through her veins. Then a numbing sensation slid down her spine, stealing her breath. “What was that?”

“It’s a paralytic. Don’t worry, it’ll wear off in twenty minutes or so.”

“Para-what-ic?”

“It means you won’t be able to move for a while.”

She choked. “Why?”

“I won’t give Jamal another chance to ruin my masterpiece. And I won’t let you bring a baby into this world just to have Jamal abuse the child too. You should have left that animal when I told you.”

Without warning, her head lolled to the side. She tried to yell an obscenity, tried to tell him he wouldn’t get away with this, but nothing moved—not her lips, not her tongue, not her vocal chords. She struggled to stand, but her legs had turned useless and her hands were like blocks of cement. Her heart beat so fast she feared it would explode.