A short while later, the stranger returned with a bag of peas covered by a tea towel. “Here,” he spoke softly, placing the frozen bag gently on her face. His voice soothed her, Cara revelled in the coldness, the heat and pain dissipated slowly and she closed her eyes to enjoy the sensation.
The pitter-patter of padded feet entered the room, a golden tail swished and snaked around the stranger’s legs.
“Oh hello! And who are you?!” The stranger cooed at the dog. Taking the dogs face in his hands and making baby noises whilst the dog covered him in wet licks.
“Diesel,” Cara muttered to him.
“Well Diesel, what do you say to a little walk?” He continued cooing at the dog. The stranger smiled up at Cara, “keep the ice on, I’ll be back in a bit.” He winked before leading the golden fluff ball out.
Cara walked towards the window, the throbbing in her head still evident as she held the frozen bag to it. She gazed out at the splendid view of the river that glistened and reflected the lights that bordered bank. The quaint village that lined the river, sparkled exquisitely against the backdrop of the town a few miles away. Her place overlooked the tarnished wooden canoes, tidily moored up to the east side of the river. And to the west, the large, stone bridge, hugged its way over the bend, as if it was holding its precious child. It was a beautiful view when the sun rose and the morning dew settled.
Cara smiled to herself, the apartment she had was close to the city, it was a forty-five minute drive to work nonetheless it was a drive she enjoyed more and more, the longer Rich had been staying.
How had she got herself into this mess? The events of the previous night and that morning soon caught up with Cara, laying back on the bed, she allowed exhaustion to claim her as her eyes fluttered shut.
The soft clicking sound of the door closing stirred Cara from her sleep, she felt the mattress dip beside her and a finger traced her jawline. Her eyelids flickered open and she was met with deep pools of chocolate. His eyes were hooded as he gazed at her under his long dark eyelashes.
“How are you feeling?” he asked with a weak smile.
“Better thanks,” Cara answered, raising herself up to lean against the headboard. The stranger watched her carefully, observing her petite features. Her blue eyes glistened but were still clouded with darkness. She could see the sympathy in his eyes as he watched her.
“It wasn’t always like that,” she began to explain, the stranger made no sound, he only allowed her to continue. “He’s been going through a rough patch, he lost his job last year and I felt guilty about the whole thing. I offered him to live with me and I guess he had no plan on leaving anytime soon.”
“That doesn’t excuse him for hurting you though,” he gestured to her ribs.
“I know,” she looked into her hands, allowing her fingers to tangle themselves in her lap. “I think the love disappeared a long time ago. I just never had the courage to end it.” She shrugged at him, tears began to fall from her face, unable to stop the dam that had burst. The stranger sat watching her, placing a hand on her leg as an offer of comfort. She chuckled to herself as she realised that despite the night they spent together, they hadn’t even exchanged names.
“What’s so funny?” He asked, noticing the smile parting her lips.
“I’ve realised, I don’t even know your name.” He looked taken aback by the comment. Obviously, in the heat of the moment, they hadn’t properly introduced themselves.
“Archer.” He said, taking her hand to shake it.
“Cara,” She replied, accepting his introduction.
Cara’s phone began to ring, making her jump.
“Did you go home with Zach Maddox?!” Jessica squealed down the phone before Cara had chance to speak.
“What? No!” Cara replied, shocked at the accusation. She was still trying to control the tears that were falling from her face.
“You okay?” Jessica asked, immediately sensing the sadness in her voice, ready to drop everything for her best friend.
“Yes,” Cara responded quickly.
“Is it Dick?” she asked, snorting as she muttered his nickname.
“Need me to come over?”
“You sure?” Jessica confirmed for the last time, knowing her best friend was too stubborn to admit.
“Yes, he’s not coming back.”
“That’s a good thing right?”
Cara paused, “Right.” She confirmed, glancing at Archer as he stroked her dog lovingly.
“Love you,” Jessica smiled down the phone.
“Love you,” Cara croaked before clicking off. Cara rested her head against the headboard as she sighed with relief.
“Breakfast?” Archer asked.
“Sure,” Cara replied, she agreed she definitely needed some food in her. Archer left the room and Diesel followed behind. Taking the hint she followed them into the kitchen.
Archer got to work making an omelette with what little food she had in the fridge. Finally plating it up, she dug straight in. The omelette was heavenly, she closed her eyes savouring the taste as her mouth did all the work, tasting the ham and cheese that Archer had managed to find. She let out a faint moan as she swallowed the delicious bite.
“Nice?” Archer chuckled, raising an eyebrow in her direction. He was still holding the spatula, a towel draped over one shoulder.
Cara giggled back, “it’s delicious!” she exclaimed. Admitting she could easily have another. Archer came and sat beside her, a smile etched on his face as he watched the gorgeous woman enjoy her plateful. He pulled his phone out, placing it in front of Cara. She froze as she watched him tap his finger beside it, gesturing for her to enter her number.
“Just in case,” he winked at her.
“In case what?” She questioned, her stare was blank.
“In case you need me to rescue you again.” He laughed, “Although I don’t think he will be coming back.”
“What makes you say that?” Cara asked suspiciously. She had seen how he had handled himself with Rich but what she didn’t see was what happened before he left.
“I told him not to,” He nudged her, “I can be very persuasive.”
“Thank you,” Cara replied, hoping she wouldn’t have to encounter Rich again. The only thing putting her on edge was the fact that his stuff was still there. She entered her number into his phone, before placing it back on the table.
“Don’t worry about his stuff either,” Archer interjected her thoughts. He stroked his finger against her cheek, the bruising was coming through and he hoped it would heal quickly. A hiss left Cara’s lips as he ran his finger past the bruise forming. “I’m afraid that’s going to be a nasty bruise.” He noted to her. She nodded in acknowledgement before continuing eating.
“How are the ribs?” He asked her softly, pressing his fingers gently against her blouse.
“Hmm... sore.” She rolled her eyes at him.
“Can I?” He gestured for her to lift her top to take a better look. Cara put her fork down and carefully lifted her top. Archer traced his fingers over the area, examining it with intricacy. “Does it hurt to breathe?” He asked. She inhaled slowly before she felt a slight pinch in her chest.
“A little,” she answered, wincing at the pain as she exhaled.
“I can take you to a doctor.” He offered. Cara raised her hand in defiance.
“No, I’ll be fine.” She responded. She stood up from the kitchen table, “I’m just going to get a shower.” She explained as he rose from the table with her. Archer took the plate from her and walked over to the sink, allowing Cara to go and refresh herself.