Her frail body sprawled asleep on a bed, the sheets in disarray, lacy white panties the only thing to cover her burnt-brown African skin.
Her arms on either side over her head, legs flung carelessly across the bed. The illumination of the room was aided naturally by sunlight, which filtered through a window that appeared to be on the opposite side from where the wooden bed stood.
Behind the bed another window in front of which was a wooden wardrobe that towered high towards the ceiling.
Below it, herself. On the bed. Unclothed.
She stared at the computer screen looking at the photo, her eyes fixed on the lace that draped her thin dark behind. And it seemed for a moment that she could completely ignore the fact that this was her in the picture, as she let her mind travel back in time recollecting where she had bought the cute undergarment.
Then as though she was slapped back to reality by an unseen hand from the back of her head, she brought her concentration back to the contents of the email.
"Everyone will see this," it read. "You know what to do, relinquish every right you have over the company or else.."
The sender address was unfamiliar, but the voice of the writer was well-known. She had heard it everyday for the past year and half, reading mails that came from the email address she was accustomed to, or hand-written love letters.
Letters she only received, albeit frequently, when an apology conveying emotions of regret for some wrong doing or another was necessary.
She had heard this voice say the words "I love you".
A phrase so simple, yet illustrious enough to become a sort of luxury, luxury that she had already begun to believe she didn't even deserve anymore.
"I love you." The first time he had said it to her, her poor heart froze up inside her chest enslaving its proficiency in receiving air for a quick second and then melted within her. His eyes had conveyed all the proof she needed that he was in fact sincere.
Sincere he was indeed.
Just as much as he was now about leaking her photo to all of humanity. Perhaps only to those who cared to see what sleeping beauty might have looked like if she had been of a much darker skin tone, with hair just long enough to run through a comb in one quick sweep.
"Far from a sleeping beauty," a coarse voice said in her head.
She stared at the photo in total disbelief.
What kind of person takes a picture of someone sleeping? She wondered and immediately answered the question for herself remembering the kind of man he was.
She thought to reply the mail then reconsidered it just as quickly as it had flashed in her mind.
How did she get herself in this mess?
One minute she was only but a girl with dreams of success and world domination, the next she was being blackmailed by the man she had devoted all her attention to for the better part of the past year.
She stood up from the chair and walked towards the wall socket where her phone was plugged in. She picked up the device, without a clue who to call or what to do and began to scroll through her contact list hoping the name would signal itself to her when she came to it.
Three days ago they had had a fight. Another fight. He had pulled her by the hair and slammed her on the mattress which lay on the floor.
Mounting himself over her and using one hand to stifle the air in her lungs as he held on to her throat he began to yell, "I will kill you!"
"F**king bitch. F**k you. You are going to die today. You better start praying to God. No don't do that, you might be going to hell." The shrill laugh that rang off his mouth was hell enough for her.
Fear embraced her and rocked her violently.
She had tried to wring herself off his hold but to no avail. He laughed at her efforts scornfully and promised her quick death at his hands.
"Scream all you want," he had said, "No one is going to hear you."
But the angels had decided it wasn't her day to die.
Now as she stood in the middle of her room, her mind re-living each moment from that day, she suddenly wished she was dead. It was all too much. She hated herself. She hated how she felt. She cursed several times under her breath. They had broken up but the company and all the business it brought with it kept them together like Siamese twins. Now he wanted it all to himself and he was going to get it.
In that moment her phone rang out, the ringtone surprisingly louder than usual as she had sunk herself in the silence of her wandering mind.
The caller, Alex. Just the man she needed to talk to.
"Lex, I am in trouble!" She said into the phone and began to cry uncontrollably.