It's You That I Need

By: Sheryl Lister
Chapter 1

Melissa Tucker walked down the hall to the office she shared with another counselor and dropped down heavily in her chair. She leaned back, closed her eyes and massaged her temples.

“You look like you’ve been run through the mill.”

Melissa glanced over at her friend standing in the doorway and chuckled. “Girl, that and more.”

“Problems with your group tonight?”

“No. It went fine.”

Sandra Carter came into the office and leaned against the desk opposite Melissa. “Then what happened?”

“I stopped off at the Nelson’s to drop off more schoolwork for Jamie and—”

“Don’t tell me his father threatened you again.”

“Not in so many words, but he told me not to come back.”

“Has he left any other notes on your car at school?”

She shook her head. “Not aside from the two you already know about.” Twice in the last week since making visits to the family’s home, Melissa found threatening notes on her car in the school’s parking lot where she worked as the psychologist. “But the notes were typed and unsigned, so the police can’t prove he was the one who left them. You know as well as I do between what I do at the school and here, it could have been anyone.” Aside from her day job, Melissa volunteered three nights a week at the women’s center Sandra oversaw. The center provided counseling and basic medical services to women and children, and housed up to twenty clients as an emergency shelter. The loss of one of their college girlfriends to domestic violence had been the catalyst for Sandra’s opening of the place that was simply called Sanctuary.

“Maybe you need to find a bodyguard or something.” Sandra shook her head and opened her mouth to say something else but was interrupted by the night guard, Floyd McBride.

“Evening, ladies.”

“Hey, Floyd,” they chorused.

“Just wanted to let you know I’m going out back to check on things. Be back in a few.”

Sandra nodded and waited until he left to continue the conversation. “I don’t know how you do it—working all day at the school then coming here in the evening. It’s almost six and I’m about to fall on my face. These twelve-hour days are a killer.” She handled the day-to-day operations and had hired another woman to work the night shift.

Melissa chuckled. “Well, it’s not like I have anything to occupy my nights these days.”

“I hear you. What happened to that guy you—” The rest of her sentence was preempted by a woman’s screams coming from the lobby. The women shared a look and then took off toward the front.

When they arrived, a woman with two children was screaming hysterically and asking for help.

“Ma’am, slow down. I can’t understand what you’re saying,” Melissa said.

“I can’t. He’s… he’s…” The woman screamed again as a large man barreled through the door bellowing for her. He latched on to her arm and tried to drag the woman and her teenaged daughter out the door.

“Daddy, no!” the little boy, who looked to be eight or nine, yelled.

The man lunged at the child and, without thinking, Melissa jumped in front of the little boy. She registered pain as the man’s fist glanced off her cheek, but kept the child firmly out of harm’s way.

Seconds later, Floyd entered with his gun drawn. “Step back, sir and put your hands where I can see them!” The man raised his fist and Floyd added, “Don’t make me repeat myself. Step. Back.”

The man hesitated briefly before deciding he didn’t want to test the former police officer’s prowess with a gun, and raised his hands.

“Get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head. Slowly.” The big man complied and Floyd handcuffed him and hauled him to his feet. Floyd turned to Melissa. “You okay?”

Her face throbbed and her hands still shook, but she nodded.

Sandra hustled the woman and her two children down the hall to the secure area.

The lobby was flooded with sirens, flashing lights and several police officers within minutes. Melissa stayed around to give a statement, watched the police escort the man out then headed toward the back to check on the new clients.


She turned back when Floyd called her.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You should put something on your face,” he said gently. “It’s already starting to swell.”

She gave him a tired smile. “I will. Thanks.” She punched in the code and went through the door. Melissa found Sandra in one of the waiting rooms doing an intake. Sandra made the introductions—Mrs. Deborah Brown, nine year-old Darren and fourteen year-old Briana.

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