This chapter contains scenes of violence and assault which may be disturbing. I’ve tried to keep it mild but just a heads up before you move on.
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to let me know what you think. I rushed this one because I know that I left you all hanging in a terrible place.
Panic, fear, anger and a desire to kill flare inside Lucas. Alaine is in danger. He’s known it from the first day he saw Angus slinking around the building on her street. Why hadn’t done something more to protect her? Now he’s hundreds of miles away and there is absolutely nothing he can do.
“Get out of the apartment, Alaine,” he orders. “Now!” he barks.
On his command, her eyes open, her vision made hazy by the tears hanging on her lashes.
“Angus?” she questions softly.
His features, while he looks at her, are calm but there is a cold detachment to his icy blue eyes that skitters a chill down her spine. The heavy, silver blade of a knife glistening in his hands render her immobile even though her brain is pressing -- demanding -- run! She remains there frozen when he takes that first little step in her direction.
“Ali,” Lucas calls gruffly, the silence and not knowing heightening his anxiety.
“I can’t get out,” she whimpers in reply. “He’s blocking the door.”
Lucas’ jaw clenches. His hands curl into tight fists the phone between his fingers protesting against the force he exerts on it. He tries to think around the images flickering across of his mind of what can happen to the girl he is head over heels in love with. He pulls in a long sharp breath into his lungs and pleads with her.
“Baby, you need to get away from him,” he says.
“I don’t know what to do,” Alaine cries, the pools of water filling her eyes finally spilling over.
The malevolence in Angus’ glare is very indicative -- any chance of appealing to him and begging him not to hurt her will be unsuccessful. She’s seen that look of coveteousness and malice before in other eyes. Green eyes that almost match her own. Still, something inside her or maybe it’s Lucas voice in her ear encourages her to try.
“What are you doing here?” she asks Angus.
He cocks his head to the side and regards her thoughtfully. “Who’s that on the phone?” he asks. “Is that him? Your employer?” he spits this time hiding none of his distaste.
“It’s Mona,” Alaine lies surprised by how easily the lie rolls off her tongue. “I was just telling her that you saved...”
“What are you doing, Alaine?” Lucas interjects. “Get away from him,” he commands. “Get to your room -- the bathroom. Lock the door,” he begs urgency lacing each word.
Angus chuckles. The maniacal sound splits her attention between him and Lucas, while her mind tries to settle on a decision between fight or flight.
“Mona?” Angus questions and shakes his head.
“Yes, you saved her,” Alaine says her eyes beginning to search frantically in front of her for anything with which she might defend herself.
Shaking his head ruefully, Angus sighs. “You’re such a disappointment, Alaine,” he says. “You’re a liar too. A beautiful little liar.”
“I haven’t lied...”
“Who is that on the phone?” he roars.
The veins in his forehead and neck pop and the forcefulness in his voice finally uproot Alaine’s feet from where they are planted on the laminate flooring. She stumbles backward trying to put more distance between the two of them.
“I save your life,” he growls between clenched teeth. “And what do I get for it? You and Lucas Bright. I know it’s him on the phone, Alaine,” he declares, his tone mocking. “You are a liar.”
Shaking her head frantically, Alaine sobs, “it’s not,” while willing her brain to think of a way out of this situation. All she feels is fear. It has her locked in a tight grip and won’t loosen its hold.
A sneer transforms Angus’ otherwise angelic features into something frighteningly grotesque.
“You think I’m stupid,” he says and takes another step toward her.
This time Alaine has the sense to try to inch further away. The entrance to the hallway where he just emerged from is close enough. If she’s quick maybe she could get to the bedroom or bathroom like Lucas suggested.
Angus notices her eyeing the tiny passageway and watches it with a smile daring her to try.
“Angus, please,” Alaine begs. “Please don’t.”
“Do you know how long I’ve wanted you?” he asks, ignoring her plea. “You wouldn’t give me the time of day and for what? Some rich prick who leaves you one day after he fucks you?”
Colour drains from Alaine’s face. How could he know that?
His lips curve into an unflattering semblance of a smile as he reads her thoughts.
“I know everything about you, Ali, goddess,” he teases while his feet carry him slowly forward.
Knowing that her only weapon against Angus is fleeing Alaine stretches her legs towards the hall.
“I’m going to hang up to call the police,” Lucas tells her.
“No,” she cries out in desperation. “Stay with me,” she begs her trembling voice communicating her fears. “Please, don’t leave me, Lucas” she sob.
“I have to, baby,” he answers in anguish. “How long before we are in the air?” she hears him shouting. “I’m just going to call the police. I’ll stay right here,” he says soothingly before shouting to whoever he is with, “someone give me a damn phone!”
“Please Angus,” Alaine begs again. “I’ll end things with him,” she tries. “We can go out.”
His laughter chills her.
“Go out? Look where we are, Alaine,” he says. “We’re way past that. Don’t you think? I don’t want you anymore. Not after the things you’ve done with that uncircumcised Philistine,” he spits.
Confused, Alaine scowls at him. The last thing she wants to do is engage him in conversation, but if pretending that she cares about anything he has to say buys her more time, then she will do it.
“What do you mean?” she asks shakily.
“I can feel you inside me, Lucas,” he mocks repeating the words she used in that very intimate phone conversation she shared with Lucas over a week ago.
A sudden weakness overcomes her, threatening to buckle her knees.
“You were in here,” she accuses. “You’ve been in here.”
Fear gives way to anger over the violation she feels raising the spirit to fight in her. It’s short-lived, however, when Angus shrugs, giving her a real look into her fate tonight. He has no qualms about whatever he has planned for her this evening.
Ignoring her question, he says, “I’ve grown tired of waiting for you.
The glint in his eyes changes and she knows she’s run out of time.
“You know what else?” he questions. “He can’t have you either.”
“Distract him, Ali,” Lucas says in her ear. “Please,” he begs softly. “Just fight, okay? Don’t let him hurt you. I called the police and Seth. Seth is on his way. Just hang on, please,” he rattles as his own hope that she will be okay begins to fizzles.
“He has a knife,” she sobs. “He’s going to hurt me.”
“Fight, damn it,” Lucas orders desperately. “Please, baby, be okay for me. For us.”
“He called the police, Angus,” Alane announces hoping that would prompt him to flee or at least hesitate long enough for her to get away.
“Then I’d better hurry,” he answers.
Realizing that she’s run out of time, Alaine makes a dash for the hallway. She hadn’t registered how close he’d gotten until it was too late. Something snags in her hair, yanking her back violently.
“No!” she screams, thrashing against Angus’ solid chest. So easily does he thwart her efforts to resist, she might as well be fighting a brick wall.
“I would like him to hear what I’m going to do to you,” Angus growls in her ear. “Tell him to stay on the line and I won’t scar your pretty face too bad.”
She weaponizes her phone, flinging her hand back to collide with his jaw.
The sharp jarring pain makes him grunt. When she tries a second time, he grabs her wrist and twists to the point of pain. An agonized wail rips from her lips as her grip on the device loosens. Her only lifeline falls to the floor with a loud clatter.
Pressing the cold steel of the blade against her throat, he growls in her ear, “quiet. I will kill you, Alaine.”
Wrapping an arm around her waist, Angus hoists her up, carries her the short distance to the airbed and tosses her face down onto it. Immediately, Alaine kicks her leg back with as much force as her trembling body can muster. Her heel connects with his thigh and he bites back a howl of pain. Using that gives her, she tries to scamper away but the unsteadiness of the surface beneath her slows her escape.
Angus’ hands close around her ankles.
“Please,” she sobs again as he drags her back towards him.
He straddles her hips from behind to pin her to the bed. Then he pulls one of her arms down twisting her shoulder abnormally to clamp it to her side. He pins it there with his knee before giving her other arm the same painful treatment.
“You’ll never give me the chance I deserve with you,” he states. “But I’m done waiting. Has he taken you from behind?”
The shaking in Alaine’s body intensifies as she weeps uncontrollably. Angus has her imprisoned and there is nothing she can do about it.
“Please, Angus,” she begs again.
“Yes, beg me,” he bends to breathe near her ear. “Beg me like you beg him.”
He lifts her dress roughly, exposing her bottom in her thin leggings. A groan of approval rumbles from his throat. Fisting his hand in her hair again, he yanks her head back violently and presses the knife to her throat for the second time.
“I will slit you,” he threatens before letting go of her hair.
Keeping the knife held to her neck, he hooks his free hand in the waistband of the leggings and drags the material down her legs carelessly bruising her skin with his nails on the way down.
As if awakened from a trance, Alaine tries to scream and buck his large, heavy body of her.
He swings his fist hard. The butt of the knife and his knuckles connect with her cheek cutting off the sound. Stars wink in her blurred vision and her head swims.
When her body goes limp beneath him, Angus whispers, “good girl. That’s a good girl.”
Though she is disoriented, nothing can numb the feel of his fingers digging into her butt cheeks.
“So much better than I imagined,” his distorted voice breathes in her ear.
His clammy hands groping her, his clammy lips scheming over her throbbing cheek make her skin crawl.
A weak groan of disgust and a shiver of repulsion roll through Alaine.
“I like that sound,” Angus gloats. “Tell me, was he gentle or rough. An ass like that, I bet you like it rough.”
After admiring her in the pale, sheer silk of her underwear, he tears the material off her body to stuff it in her mouth.
The sound of his belt working loose makes Alaine cringe and cry anew. Each tormented whimper she makes gets muffled by the fabric being used to gag her. Even if she knows it’s hopeless, she tries again to pry herself free from the prison of his huge body.
Please help me, someone, she thinks.
“I don’t want you where he’s had you,” Angus announces.
The sudden heavy and continuous pounding of a fist on the door disrupts his momentum. Angus looks over at the entrance of the apartment with some trepidation but won’t be deterred. He fixes his attention on Alaine again.
“Don’t worry,” he leans in to whisper in her ear. “If you’re really quiet, they’ll just go away. Your landlords aren’t here to open for them.”
Fear returns in waves overwashing the hope that began to swell in her chest. She tries to yell -- to make any sound beyond the obstruction in her throat but his large hand closes over her mouth and nose suffocating her. A valiant battle for breath and release ensues. It is to no avail.
The pounding stops, snuffing out whatever remnant of hope of being rescued that remained in her.
She strains her ears to listen despite the loud ringing in her head. Feet shuffle on the floorboards just outside this hell she is in. If she could just make a sound then maybe...
Then she hears it -- her name shouted loudly from outside.
Seth! her mind screams even as dark spots start to fill her vision from the lack of oxygen. Thankfully, those fingers cutting off her air supply loosen slightly. With great effort, she drags a small amount of air into her lungs.
With his free hand still covering her mouth and nose, Angus sets down his knife. His hold on her weakens when he moves down her body desperately.
The feel his naked skin gliding against her own is sickening but Alaine focuses on liberating her hand instead of the bile rising in her throat. She sets her sights on the weapon on the weapon lying not too far from reach.
He positions his hard flesh between her butt cheeks at the same time she tugs her arm free. Grabbing blindly, her fingers close around the blade before he can react to stop her. In desperation, she slices at the hand restricting her ability to breathe.
His grunt of pain signals the only chance she has to make a sound loud enough to draw the attention of the police officers outside. Rather than engaging Angus in a fight that she knows she stands no chance of winning, she prays for true aim and tosses her only defense at the lamp sitting on the end table in the corner near the airbed.
For a second, Angus tenses above her.
They both watch as the lamp teeters and tilts over the edge. He growls but leaps off her before it crashes to the floor.
Alaine rips the obstruction from her mouth, gasping for air at the same time she lets out a gut-wrenching sob.
Everything erupts in pandemonium after that. The door to her apartment flies off its hinges with a loud crash. A squad of heavy thumping feet tramples across the faux hardwood floor. Then familiar arms cover her nakedness in a blanket.
Though Alaine knows it’s Seth, she stiffens and flinches away from his touch.
Easing beside her onto the airbed, he whispers, “It’s only me, Ali. I’m here. I’ve got you this time.”
A legion of officers descends on her small apartment. They’re barking orders and handling everything like they have a right to. She doesn’t understand why there are so many of them trampling around in her tiny apartment. She wants to order all of them out but for some reason, she feels frozen.
A camera flashes from somewhere. The bright light is like a stab to her eyes which are sore from crying.
Alaine turns mechanically to the sound of a woman’s voice. She looks down where the plainclothes detective is crouching in front of her with her badge on display. She tries to read what it says but it’s impossible to see anything beyond the deluge in her eyes.
She swipes at the tears running down her right cheek and winces in pain. Angus hit her -- hard. More tears roll down her cheeks. Knowing that nothing will stem the flow, she simply gives up and lets them fall.
“My name is Reena Murphy,” the lady says. “I’m a detective with the NYPD. May I ask you a few questions?”
Alaine responds with a stilted nod. For the first time, she feels a searing pain under her chin. She runs her hand over her throat and her fingers come away coated in her blood. Her blood. Angus cut her. He was supposed to be her friend.
She swallows down another sob so the only sound she makes is a little whimper.
“This is my partner, officer Downs,” the lady continues, drawing her attention again. “Do you mind if he sticks around? He won’t speak, you won’t even know he’s here.”
Again, Alaine nods her head.
“Do you know who attacked you?” the female detective asks.
“Yes,” she sobs.
She has no idea when or where Seth disappeared to but at the first sign of her rapidly diminishing ability to cope, he reappears by her side. Taking her bloodied fingers in his, he strokes her hand comfortingly.
“You the boyfriend?” Officer Downs asks.
“Her cousin,” Seth responds not trying to hide his irritation. “I thought you were supposed to keep quiet,” he growls at the officer. “And her boyfriend is Lucas Bright,” he declares.
“Seth,” Alaine rasps in warning as the two officers share a look.
“No wonder they ordered an entire squadron down here,” officer Downs surmises.
The four of them survey the troop of armed officers in the apartment -- two of whom are standing guard at the door.
Officer Murphy turns a cold look of reprimand to her partner before turning her attention back to Alaine.
“The name,” she prompts gently.
“Angus Maloney,” Alaine supplies.
The detective scribbles in her little notebook before lifting her eyes to Alaine’s again. “Do you and Angus have a history? A personal relationship?” she questions.
Alaine looks at her horrified then a sob wracks her chest. She wants to be angry. She wants to tell the detective to go to hell. How dare she? She’s sitting here beaten and bleeding. What difference does it make what her relationship with Angus is or was? However, her current state of shock and fear leave no room for any other emotion to last very long.
As hotly as her temper flared it simmers down.
Feeling defeated, Alaine replies, “no,” to the detective’s question. “He did deliveries for the flower shop where I worked. He asked me out on a date two weeks ago, the Monday after Valentine’s Day,” she explains. “I turned him down.”
Sensing her victim’s agitation, Detective Murphy rests a gentle hand on Alaine’s shoulder.
“Okay,” she says. “Why don’t you just tell us what happened.”
Taking a deep breath, Alaine recounts every horrible thing that happened to her in her home -- the one place in the world where she thought she was safe. Visibly cringing as she is forced to relive it again, her breath hitches as she realizes with each detail she provides just how much danger she has been in.
Angus had been in her apartment. He’d been watching her -- following her.
Why hadn’t she listened to Lucas? Why hadn’t she stayed at his place, when he offered? Foolish pride? This never would have happened if she’d just listened to him.
Once the interrogation is over, the detective pulls herself up on her feet. With a final pat on Alaine’s shoulder, she says, “thank you, Ms. Knight. We’re going to take you to the hospital now. If you remember anything else, give us a call.”
Turning to her partner she says, “have this place swept for bugs.”
Beside her, Seth mumbles something violent under his breath. He looks down at Alaine still trembling against him and beats back a wave of emotion clogging his throat.
“Come on,” he tells her. “I’ll drive you.”
Leading Alaine along with an arm around her shoulders, he follows the path the detectives cut through the crowd of onlookers on the landing.
“I’d like to take her,” Seth says to Detective Murphy as they descend the stairs. “Can you provide an escort?” he asks.
Casting another sad eye in Alaine’s direction, she nods her head.
Seth aids her climb into the SUV before moving silently to the driver’s side. What can he say to Alaine? What excuse can he give for failing her again?
They drive in the most somber silence that has ever existed between them.
Alaine curls herself in a corner with her face resting against the cold glass window. The tears won’t stop coming and looking outside she sees and feels nothing other than Angus -- his cold blue stare and chill in his touch.
When they get to the hospital, the bright fluorescent lights sealed into the ceiling sear her puffy, sensitive eyes. Blinking against them, Alaine continues to work on autopilot. She allows herself to be guided by the detectives and Seth until a doctor shows up in the exam room.
In her terror-induced state of catatonia, she obeys every order the doctor gives robotically. The woman’s solemn expression grates on her nerves. Everyone’s delicate treatment is irritating.
What about Lucas? Is this the way he’s going to be with her?
This is the first time she’s really thought of him since the phone fell from her hand. What will he think about her now, after this?
“You can get dressed,” the doctor tells her when she is finished with her prodding.
A small, sympathetic smile finally changes the look on her face, if only a little.
“Actually, that should be evidence. I’ll see if I can find something for you in the meantime,” she explains before slipping out of the room.
Alaine nods to one in particular. Alone again, her senses kick into overdrive. The bright lights hurt her eyes. The ‘hospital’ smell curls her stomach. The odour is so poignant, she can taste latex, alcohol, and sterility on her tongue.
Suddenly, the A/C grows too cold and her body begins to shake uncontrollably. All she can do is fold herself into a ball and allow them to take over.
She just wants to go, to run, to hide -- somewhere -- anywhere.
She needs a bath.
Seth returns a short while later with clean clothes in hand.
“We’re getting out of here,” he commands. “I’m sure you’re tired. I’ll take you back to Lucas’ place. He’s on his way. He’ll be here, Ali.”
Lucas rests his forehead against the cold metal in the cabin of his private jet and lets out a distressed groan. All he can hear in his head is Alaine’s loud scream and the fear in her voice. The clatter of the phone when it fell from her hand was deafening and the sudden silence that followed was like death to hope.
Ali, his mind pleads.
“Please,” he mouths with his eyes closed. “Please, please, please,” he repeats over and over and hopes that God is real and is listening to his prayer.
Someone taps his shoulder. He wants to shove whoever it is away from him to keep them from disrupting his supplication to the higher power.
“Mr. Bright,” the pilot calls when he doesn’t answer.
Without looking at the man, Lucas says, “we need to be in the air...now.”
“We’ve been announcing our intent for departure sir,” the pilot explains as he eyebrows knit together in concern. “We need you seated,” he says.
On feeble legs, Lucas moves away from the closed door of the airplane and walks the length of the aisle. He sinks into his seat, supports his elbows on his thighs, bows his head in his hand and sticks them through his hair in frustration.
For the duration of the flight, he gets on like a mad man. Unable to keep still, he paces the length of the cabin like a caged animal. He can think of nothing but Alaine. And Angus -- killing Angus.
Hands fisted at his sides, he grinds his teeth to keep from screaming the rage and hurt boiling inside him.
The wait is comparable to a slow, agonizing death. Stalking towards the cockpit, he pushes the door open with trembling hands and growls, “how much longer till we land?”
The pilot answers but Lucas hears nothing other than one hour and something about air traffic.
Grumbling an expletive, he slaps his palm hard against the metal wall over and over again.
This is his fault. He knew she was in danger and he still left her to fend for herself.
Three days ago, he cut his trip to Italy short. He’d planned to stay three full weeks then he would return to spend a few days with Alaine before going back. His need for her had been insurmountable. It was frightening and crazy but undeniable and would not be ignored. It took him three long days of unexpected business meetings popping up along the way.
His intention was to surprise her -- to just show up at her door and whisk her away in the night. He’d love her thoroughly and lose the last two weeks of frustration in her body.
The need to hear her voice would not be denied either. That’s why he’d called. What if he hadn’t? He had no idea that he would hear her in a fight for her life. Nothing has ever scared him more than that.
Lucas tries her number again. The first few times he did, the calls rang out. This time he listens to the irritating sound of her automated voice messaging service and attempts to breathe out his frustration.
Neither she nor Seth is answering their phones and he has no idea who else to call so he has to force his mind away from thinking the worse.
Seth got to her, he tells himself. The police saved her. Angus is dead.
But he has no way of knowing for sure. Not until he sees her, damn it!
What had he done? This is his fault.
Lucas drops his head in his hands after sinking unsteadily into the plush seat. He remembers kissing Alaine right here. Her first kiss. His first kiss.
The damn in his eyes finally breaks. What if she is not okay? What if Angus... No! Don’t think like that.
“Please,” he says prayerfully. “Not that. Anything but that.”
The longest hour of his life passes with infinite slowness, but he is finally on the ground and in a taxi to where? He doesn’t even know where she is for God’s sake. He still hasn’t heard from anyone
How bad is it? What had been done to her?
Please be okay, Ali, he thinks again.
“Can you go any faster?” he asks the driver.
“Sorry man, speed limit,” the man answers. “And traffic only gets worse from here.”
The taxi pulls up to Alaine’s address after an eternity. Lucas looks up at the window to her apartment from the backseat of the yellow cab. He can tell that inside it is dark but he needs to know for sure.
“Wait here,” he orders, before pushing the door open and taking off across the street. After buzzing Alaine’s apartment and receiving no reply, he backs away from the building to get back in the car.
He states the new address to the driver and sits and waits. That’s all he can do.
Lucas wills the elevator to travel faster up to his apartment. The doors open to a sorry scene.
Alaine’s sister occupies his sofa. Her eyes are red-rimmed and her face swollen obviously from crying. In her arms, she clutches her daughter like she is a lifeline. What’s worse she loses her composure even more as soon as he steps into his living room.
Seth stands at the counter with his head hanging. They both look at him with so much sadness, physical pain erupts in Lucas’ chest.
Why aren’t they saying anything?
Even if he is afraid to know the answer, he asks, “where is she?”