A real life knight in shining armor--except he isn't in armor, he's in a suit. But the first time Lena Douglas lays eyes on Stephan Grayson that's what he seems to her. He saves her from a violence that still haunts her nights, but at least he's there to hold her should she wake.
But the nightmare's not over; it stalks them both now. A mistake from her past that will not let go. But then, neither will Stephan.
Stephan’s saved her once and he's not about to let anyone, especially Lena, stand in the way of what is happening between them. But will he always be there to shield her from the danger she thought she left behind?
“Hello…listen, I’m at the corner of Broad Street and Denny Way. I’m looking into the second floor of a garden-style apartment opened onto Broad, and it looks like there’s a…a robbery taking place.” Stephan spoke anxiously into the phone, his voice cracking mid-speak.
The emergency operator on the other end replied in a steady tone, “I’m dispatching a patrol car to the area, sir. Stay on the line with me. Are you one of the victims or do you know the people involved?”
“No, no it’s not me and I don’t know them. I’m in my car. Hang on, the light’s changing. I’m going to make a U-turn and park on the street so I can keep watch.”
He ignored the car honking at him because he cut in front of it. The building before him and the woman in trouble his only focus. The sun had been down for awhile now, but the open lighted walkway in the three-story building allowed Stephan a pretty clear view.
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to remain in the car,” the operator insisted in a forceful voice. “How many people are involved?”
“Two, I think. A man and a woman, I saw him grab her purse and she tried to run. Hurry!” he cried.
“Help is on the way. Please try to stay calm.”
“My God!” Stephan exclaimed. “He just hit her…she’s trying to fight him off. He kicked a door open and…he’s…he’s trying to drag her in!” His words were coming faster, rushing to get the information out. “She’s fighting back. I can’t just sit here watching this.”
“Sir, please do not leave your car,” the operator stated firmly. “The person could be armed as well as dangerous. Wait for the authorities.”
“I’m sorry. I’m already at the building. Tell the cops, when they get here, it’s the second building from the corner, second floor, the door at the top of the stairs. I’m going to leave my phone on so you can listen in, but I’m putting it in my pocket.”
Without waiting to hear a reply, Stephan did just that.
As he ran up the stairs he heard a woman’s screams. Why isn’t anyone trying to help her? He had seen three other doors with apartment numbers on this floor alone. Surely one of them was occupied. It didn’t matter, he was here and he wasn’t going to do nothing. Too late, he wished he’d taken the time to grab a tire iron from his car. But he had stopped rational thought as soon as he glimpsed the woman in trouble. He’d just have to rely on being in good physical shape. It wasn’t like he was a fighter, in truth he used his mind not his muscle. Now he may have to use both, and so far he hadn’t been using much of his so-called intelligence tonight. An intelligent person would have waited on the sidewalk and pointed the cops in the right direction.
Stephan stopped at the now closed door he had seen the man kick open. A scuff mark near the bottom of the panel confirmed he had the right place. He put his ear to the wood but could hear nothing. Turning the doorknob he found it unlocked, and cautiously pushed it open. He slipped inside leaving it slightly ajar so the cops could enter easily.
Muffled sounds came from the interior of the apartment. Taking a step in the direction of the noise, ragged cries suddenly rent the air. A hallway, probably leading to a bedroom, stretched in front and to the right of him. There were no lights on, but the blinds were partially open, and the glow from a street lamp provided enough illumination to the small room.
Glancing to the left, he spied a kitchen. His already fast beating heart pumped more blood into his system, adding strength to his resolve. Moving quickly, he headed there first for a weapon. As soon as he pulled a knife from the block on the counter, the wail of a siren whined from a distance, at the same time he heard a scream that curdled his soul.
Throwing caution out the window he ran down the short hallway, the direction the cry had come from, fear setting his pace. Stopping in front of the only room, he gripped the open doorframe. The scene unfolding before him chilled his blood.
The dimmed overhead light showed a woman lying face down on the bed, and a man in dark clothing sat on top of her, straddling her legs to hold her down. She kept screaming and bucking to try to throw him off, but he kept laughing, and using one hand to hold both of hers on her head while he ripped her blouse with the other. So engaged in his activity, he didn’t even hear Stephan behind him.
Stephan wanted to stick the sonofabitch with the knife in his hand. But he spotted an empty metal potpourri bowl on a stand near the door. He didn’t want to shed any of the man’s blood on the woman if he didn’t have to. He put down the knife and picked up the bowl. Using all of his strength, fueled by his anger, he smashed it against the side of the bastard’s head.
Like a bowling pin toppling over, the man fell off the bed onto the floor, hopefully out cold for a while. When the weight holding her down disappeared, the woman on the bed flipped over. She raised her tear-streaked face and her eyes momentarily collided with Stephan’s before shifting to the man on the floor. As her gaze returned to his, fear flooded her beautiful chocolate-colored eyes. She gasped, and backed up against the headboard.
Even with puffy eyes, tear tracks on her face, and a bruise on her toasted almond-colored cheek her beauty still shone through. Stephan’s heart, which had been racing before, stopped in mid-beat.