(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

We were both afraid to close our eyes. In darkness, I was visited by nightmares while Jeanette felt desperately alone. The night after the surgery, she lay awake listening to the hospital noises. Finally, she decided it was time for her to get up. She didn’t want to make trouble for the nurses so she hoisted herself out of bed, clung to the rail and shuffled across the floor. Then she stopped, halted by the image of someone looking back at her from the mirror, someone with a bruised and beaten face. She searched her own eyes but couldn’t find herself in her reflection.

After four nights of sleeping on a rolled out blanket in the Eartha Kitt room at Rob and Amy’s, I was eager to go home. Jeanette’s brother David came with me and stayed in my guest room to serve as protector. Despite the comfort of my bed, I still lay awake and wondered how I’d manage on my own. Fear is a powerful and insidious force.

Jeanette was released from the hospital and moved into protective custody at Mary’s house. With her jaw wired shut, she started eating through a syringe until we perfected the art of making shakes and mashing food. Karen stayed with her but she would soon have to return to work, so another friend spearheaded the effort to provide around-the-clock care for Jeanette. An elaborate schedule of rotating friends was laid out—when one would leave, another would arrive.

My neighbor Amy decided she’d feel better if we got a dog, and she found one pictured on a notice at the café down the street. She called the number and arranged a meeting. I was out on patrol with Cagney when Michael showed up with his dog Gus. Michael had just moved from the east coast to study yoga at a teaching center on the beach. When he ran out of money, he moved into an ashram nearby but the group home didn’t allow dogs. Amy thought the arrangement would be perfect—she and Rob could take Gus on a temporary basis. She was excited about the prospect, more excited than the event seemed to merit. That’s when she revealed that Michael was an extraordinarily handsome young man. “I can totally see you with him,” she said.