Nathaniel stood at the billing counter, his eyes focused on the exit door.
He felt uneasy for no apparent reason. He looked toward his watch and then his phone. Zara had texted him saying she’d leave the door open for him. He had texted her back with a wicked suggestion as to how she could lay herself out on the bed, but she hadn’t responded.
He looked down at the container he held. It was chocolate and hazelnut. The flavor he knew was Zara’s favorite. He tapped his foot impatiently and rubbed the back of his neck.
This was totally silly. A part of him urged him to drop the ice-cream and run back to the apartment.
He felt an unexplainable need to go find Zara. He shut his eyes and pressed the bridge of his nose between his fingers. Fucking hell, he must be losing his mind.
The part of him screaming to go find her, disagreed with the thought.
He was relieved when the next moment, the cashier billed him up. It took only a minute and the next second, Nathaniel hurried out of the store, following his gut even though it made no sense as to why he was suddenly worried for no valid reason.
When he reached the apartment building, he took the steps two at a time, his heart pounding with a hint of fear. What in the world was wrong with him? His mind was driving him crazy.
When he reached their floor, everything in him went still as he heard the scream.
He ran without a thought, dread and fear rushing through him.
He saw that the door was unlocked and left open and he pushed it away. Someone fell right into him and he dropped the container, his arms coming up.
Zara’s tear stained face looked up at him and his heart stopped altogether. He saw the trace of blood on her mouth and her shirt crumpled up in the front, the material hanging off her shoulder, signaling that someone had manhandled her. Her hands came up to grab his arms and he quickly saw the blood on her fingers. There was a bruise forming on the side of her face.
Over her head, he saw a blond guy, racing after her, limping on his right leg, one hand clutching his face where blood seeped through his nose. He recollected the day Zara had come home, pale and shaken. This bastard was the guy she had told him about.
Nathaniel felt rage and an icy stream of anger coursed through him.
He held Zara for only a second, and he heard her cry, saying his name in relief and disbelief. In his ears, his blood pounded, adrenaline rushing through him.
His first instinct was to hold her, but he forced himself to push her away, setting her behind him and saying flatly, “Go Zara, call for help.” He handed her his phone, fishing it out from his pocket.
He prayed and hoped that she listened to him because he didn’t turn back to check on her.
The image of Zara, hurt and crying would be etched in his brain forever.
He was going to kill this motherfucker who had dared to touch her.
The guy stared at him with a hint of a grin on his face. “She does feel fucking good, doesn’t she?” He laughed, still coming toward him.
Nathaniel punched him in the face without another thought. The man cursed and fell back, landing on the floor. “You piece of shit,” Nathaniel growled and sat over him, punching him again and again, the sound of bone breaking not making him pause in the least.
Underneath him, the man struggled weakly, his head rolling back, his hands coming up to block the blows.
The next second, Nathaniel felt him reach into the back of his jeans, and pull out something. Acting on reflex, Nathaniel caught his wrist and twisted hard, making him cry out and drop the object. The glint of a blade was the only thing that Nathaniel’s mind registered.
Nathaniel shifted his aim and punched him in the throat.
The man rose up halfway, his hands clutching his neck, his face contorted in pain, choking.
Nathaniel caught his shirt and pulled him up, “Who sent you?” he growled, anger and fear both clutching at his heart, swamping it till he couldn’t think clearly.
All he wanted was to kill the guy. Nothing else mattered.
Nathaniel reached into the man’s pocket, keeping his hands visible at all time and grabbed the phone and wallet he found there. There was also a pair of keys. Nothing else. He quickly grabbed the knife that had fallen inches away from him.
What was this fucker’s motive?
He quickly stood up and brought his leg down hard on the man’s thigh, satisfied when he felt the bone crack. The man screamed in agony, blood running down his face. And yet, through it all, he smiled.
“That pussy was fucking expensive,” he laughed again, blood and spittle falling out of his mouth.
Nathaniel saw red. He brought his foot down on the man’s balls and stamped it hard.
Then he transferred it to his throat, cutting off his air supply. “Who fucking sent you?!” He shouted, pushing his weight into it. The man was choking. Nathaniel knew he had at most a minute before his lungs gave out.
His hand that held the knife trembled with the need to plunge the blade right through the bastard’s chest and kill him.
His mind vaguely registered the sound of sirens and the thud of footsteps and voices.
He barely heard the sound of Zara’s voice.
He suddenly eased the pressure off the man’s neck and looked to the side.
Zara stood there, her eyes wide with fear. She stared at him, holding her arms out, “You’re going to kill him, Nate,” she looked down at the man and quickly up at him.
Nathaniel saw the first police officer with a gun aimed at him, enter through the door and he stepped back. At his feet, the man choked and laughed, his eyes trained on the ceiling.
Nathaniel looked back at him and in the path of his vision, saw the blood over his own shirt and hands.
“Sir, I need you to drop the knife and step back.”
Nathaniel took a second to register the order. He dropped the knife a few feet away and stepped back, holding his arms up and away from his body.
Next to him, he saw Zara tremble, staring at him with tears in her eyes.
He went to her, his mind running a mile a minute, the fear that had swamped him, finally beginning to release its hold.
Zara was okay.
Without waiting for another moment, he pulled her to him, crushing her against his chest. Around them, officers entered the room, spreading out, shouting out orders and pushing them away to a corner, speaking about what they wanted Zara and Nathaniel to do.
He didn’t hear any of it.
The only thing his entire being was focused on was the fact that Zara was in his arms, safe and secure, alive and breathing. He hugged her tighter than he ever had. Taking her toward the couch, he sat down, pulling her into his lap, uncaring that they had an audience.
Zara wrapped herself around him, her face in his neck, crying softly. Nathaniel held her close to him, murmuring over and over that he was sorry and she was safe now. He could feel her tears on his skin. He kissed her hair, her shoulder, her neck.
“I love you, Zara. You’re safe now, ” he said it over and over.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Matt enter the room, his eyes wide and mouth open as he took in the scene. Outside the door, he saw Susan holding Amy close, her eyes on them. He could see that she was torn between coming in or staying out. The blood and gore wasn’t something Amy had to witness.
Matt ran over to them, asking if they were alright.
Nathaniel only nodded and indicated to Susan, telling his best friend to take care of them.
Zara didn’t turn when she heard Matt’s voice, burrowing even deeper into Nathaniel’s body.
Nathaniel closed his eyes and looked around.
He embraced Zara tighter.
They were going to get through this.
A/N:- Please vote and leave a review if you like the book, guys! ♥