There was a loud bang, followed by footsteps, but there was no searing pain, in fact there was no pain at all. I opened my eyes to see Tobias and the guard charge through my bedroom door and like a bolt of lightning they disabled Ben before he could pull the trigger. Tobias threw the gun on the bed while the guard pinned Ben to the ground. He was yelling incoherently, but it didn’t matter, I wasn’t listening anymore.
I looked up at Tobias, he was staring down at Ben, his eyes dark and full of anger. I let my mouth whisper Tobias’ name. Even though he wasn’t mine to rely on for comfort. Still he looked up, his eyes softened, he rushed over to me, wrapping his arms around my blanket covered body, blinding me from seeing Ben even a moment longer. I buried my head in his chest and inhaled the scent of his sandalwood bodywash.
“Are you okay? Did he…” Tobias stopped talking, he lifted my head with his hand so our eyes aligned. His icy blue eyes studied me intently, waiting for my answer to his half asked question.
I shook my head, but the gravity of the situation as it was, hit me and I couldn’t hold the emotion any longer. Tears spilled from my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. Tobias brought me back into his chest, his hands cradled my head and for a moment I felt the safest I’d ever felt.
“Chris, get him out of her room. The police will be here shortly.” He asked in a surprisingly calm tone.
“Of course sir.” The guard replied. I heard him pull Ben to his feet and Chris the guard mumbled something to him under his breath. The two left the room without another word.
Once it was just the two of us in the bedroom I finally allowed myself to relax. Tobias led me over to the bed and sat me down. He brushed damp strands of hair off my face and grazed my cheeks with the palms of his hands. I looked up at Tobias and tried to smile, but it felt more like I’d grimaced. His eyes closed and he let out a shaky breath.
“Chris called me. I told him too. I said if anyone other than me tried to visit you, to let me know.” Tobias dipped his head, he sounded embarrassed. “I probably sound like an overprotective creep.”
I shook my head. His forethought had saved me, surely he had to know that.
“Are you kidding? Tobias, if he hadn’t called you… I’d be…” I closed my eyes and tried to forget about the gun on the bed behind me.
“I don’t even want to think about that.” He murmured. “I was already in the elevator when you called. Heard you call out as he dragged you from the shower. I willed the damn thing to hurry up. I was so scared.”
I didn’t know what to make of his admittance, my mindset was so shaken that deciphering anything was nigh on impossible.
“You got here in time.” I whispered. “You stopped him.”
“And he won’t hurt you anymore.” Tobias replied.
I smiled, easily this time and nodded. Ben would leave this apartment and find himself inside the dank walls of a prison cell. I could move on. For real this time.
“I’ll get you some dry clothes.” Tobias said as he stood up, he took his hands from my face and walked over to the drawers on the other side of the room. I watched as he opened the drawers searching for the items he needed, I watched as he took some underwear and a bra from one drawer, before opening another and pulling out a t-shirt and trackpants.
“I recognise these.” He mused walking back over to me with the clothing.
I nodded as I took them from his hands. The pants and shirt were his. I’d laundered them, but they still smelt like him. I stood up and Tobias went to walk out of the room, cold fear struck and the thought of being alone in here terrified me, especially given that the gun still sitting on my bed.
“Can you stay.” I whispered. “I don’t want to be alone.”
Tobias turned around and looked at me. His eyes were soft and understanding he nodded while still frowning at the same time. “Of course Ruby.”
He turned back toward the door, giving me enough privacy to drop the blanket to the floor. I dressed quickly and then walked toward the door where Tobias stood.
“I’m dressed.” I murmured.
He looked back at me and slid his hand in mine. “Shall we see if the police are here?”
I nodded, although the fear of laying eyes on Ben was enough to break my confidence. We walked out of the room to find Ben being led out of the room by a police officer. Chris was giving a statement. Another officer, female looked up at me.
“Ben admitted to stalking you. He’s admitted everything actually. We’ll need to take a statement...but we can do it another time when you’ve had a chance to recuperate.”
I nodded, thankful I wasn’t going to have to relive it over and over again… at least not out loud.
“I have to ask if… if we need to do a rape kit.” She asked softly.
I shook my head. “It didn’t get that far.” I whispered.
“Alright. Well Chris has mentioned a firearm.”
“It’s in the bedroom, first door on the right, on her bed.” Tobias exclaimed.
The officer nodded and walked toward my room. I pulled my hand from Tobias’ and walked toward the window that overlooked the city. The sun was gone, but the lights of the city were almost so bright they were just as blinding.
“The officers just left.” Tobias exclaimed a while later, breaking me from my daze. “Can I get you something? A drink, camomile tea maybe?”
I turned away from the view of the city and focused on Tobias. He looked at me like I was delicate, a breakable porcelain that needed to be handled with care. We’d been close before, but this was different. He cared and I could see it.
“Camomile tea?” I whispered.
“It has calming properties. You’ve had a bit of a shock.”
“I don’t have any.” I murmured. “Tea that is.”
Tobias nodded and placed his hands in his pockets. He looked down at the ground and shuffled his feet. “I have some at my place.” He offered.
“Are you inviting me over to your place?” I whispered.
Tobias’ face dropped, he looked mortified. He shook his head and took a step toward me, then stopped and backed off again.
“Not like that Ruby. I don’t want to take advantage of you.” he exclaimed.
“Relax, I know.” I whispered. “Actually, getting out of here… at least for right now might be a really good idea.”
Tobias nodded. “Why don’t you pack a bag. I’ve got a guest room you can sleep in tonight.”
I looked toward the hallway and tried to muster the courage to walk into my bedroom alone. I knew it was unreasonable considering I’d watched an officer walk out of my apartment with Ben, but I was still afraid he would be in there and my nightmare would reboot.
“You’re safe now.” Tobias whispered. “I promise.”
He walked across the floor to me and enveloped me in his arms. I could have stayed in his embrace for eternity. I believed his words, because in his arms I truly felt safe, as stupid as it was. We were an impossible couple, a reality that would never work out. But for right now, I just didn’t give a damn.
Eventually, I slipped out of his grip, and even though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I walked toward my bedroom. I grabbed some clothes and quickly shoved them into a bag before escaping from the suffocation of my bedroom.
Tobias led me from my apartment locked the door behind us.
We didn’t speak as we took the elevator down to the lobby. Chris was back at his post by the door. I walked across the foyer floor to him and reached up to give him a hug.
“Thank you Chris.” I murmured.
He pat me on the back and as I stepped back he shook his head. “I should have stopped him before you went into that elevator.”
“You weren’t to know, besides, you still called Tobias.”
“As long as you’re alright Miss Moritz.”
I nodded, even though I wasn’t completely alright, I would be… and that was what mattered. I walked back over to Tobias who stood by the parking garage elevator. The door pinged open as I stepped beside him. He guided me in and then walked inside the small space himself.
When the elevator stopped on the parking garage level, Tobias and I walked out. His car was parked right by the door. He unlocked the car and opened my door then chucked my bag in the back seat.
I sat down in the passenger’s seat and Tobias closed the door behind me.
Once we left the complex, each inch of distance that was put between me and the place I’d briefly called home I felt more relaxed. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle going back there, but I didn’t need to think about it tonight.
It wasn’t until I was sitting on Tobias’ couch that I remembered the last time I had been in his apartment. It had been the day the cops had visited to take my statement about Ben, but it had also been the last time Tobias and I had been close.
It had been a long two weeks, I missed the connection I’d barely had the chance to enjoy. I watched Tobias in the kitchen. He was focused on making the tea. I idly wondered if he’d missed it too. Finally he walked across the room with a small cup and saucer and placed them down on the coffee table in front of me.
“Chamomile tea.” I murmured.
Tobias nodded and sat down on the couch beside me. “My father used to make me cups when I was younger. Usually after a panic attack.” He stopped and cleared his throat.
I looked up at him, grateful for the small insight to his past, but sad that he had experienced such a thing. I was no stranger to anxiety, it was a crippling condition at times.
“Did it help?” I lifted the saucer up, and hooked my finger through the handle.
“I’m not sure if it was the tea, or the fact my father showed concern… but yes.” He murmured.
I sipped on the sweet floral tea. I placed it back down on the saucer and then onto the table.
“Are you hungry?” Tobias asked softly. “I could make you dinner.”
I shook my head, my appetite was gone. “You should eat though.” I whispered. “I don’t want to impose.”
Tobias shook his head. “I’m fine, I was at a client dinner when Chris called, I’ve eaten.”
Guilt surged, my dilemma has pulled him from one of his important client dinners. I opened my mouth to apologise but Tobias grabbed my left hand with his and squeezed gently.
“Your safety is worth more than gaining a client.” He said without regret.
“Right.” I scoffed. “I’m worth more than multimillionaire clients who want to sink their riches into your Company.”
“Of course you are.” He said without skipping a beat, though he sounded annoyed.
I didn’t know how to process what he was saying, did he mean I was worth more in general, or just to him… or both. I wanted to understand, but my mind was overwrought with everything that had happened. I was burnt out.
My heart skipped as his thumb grazed over the skin of my hand. His touch hadn’t lost its magic and my entire being knew it. I pulled my hand away from his and placed it in my lap.
“I shouldn’t have come here.” I whispered.
“Ruby… I’m not going to try anything. You made your position on us very clear… I’m just, I’m worried about you.” Tobias spoke clearly, like he wanted me to understand that this was just about my well being and nothing else. My heart hurt, I wanted so much more.
“Exactly Tobias.” I whispered. “I need to go. I’ll stay in a hotel tonight.” I mumbled standing up.
“Ruby?” Tobias questioned. “Please, just stay here.”
I shook my head and walked toward the door. “I can’t be around you, when all I want is to be with you.” I exclaimed. “I’ve tried to pretend I have no feelings for you, but I can’t. I love you.” There was no point denying it anymore. I loved him, and he couldn’t love me back. It was a dealbreaker.
Thankful I was facing away from Tobias I placed my hand over the door handle. Before I could pull it down though Tobias called my name. His voice was barely a whisper, like his resolve was weakening. I didn’t want to break him, not like this, but I could sense I was doing it anyway.
“I don’t want you to go.”
“Then we’re back where we ended two weeks ago.” I mused.
“I can’t give you forever.” He admitted. “And you wouldn’t want me forever either.”
I frowned, he was wrong, but I knew just telling him that wouldn’t make him believe me.
“Don’t tell me what I wouldn’t want.” I replied. “I know what and who I want Tobias Clarke.” I turned around and looked at him. Even though he stood as tall as ever, there was something childlike about how he stood in front of me from across the room. I walked toward him and placed my hand on his chest. “And I’m looking at him.”