The thunder rumbled through the clouds as he charged forward and threw one hard punch towards the man who was straddling me. I remained crouched on the floor as the scene unfolded before me. The stranger continued to pummel the assaulter. The man tried to hit the stranger but missed every time. It seemed like he was no match for the person who was trying to save me. By the stranger’s smooth moves, I had the impression that he knew some kind of kung-fu or karate or some other self-defense techniques.
I heard another bone-cracking punch, and the stranger literally pounded his head on the wall until the man’s eyes rolled back and his body slid down towards the ground unconsciously.
I wondered if he was dead, and a part of me wished he was. I watched the stranger’s eyes land on me, his confident strides approaching as I crouched on the floor. He raised his hand towards me. “Can you stand up?”
I tried to pull myself into a standing position but winced. The man didn’t wait; he put his right arm around my shoulders and the other under my knees as he carried me in his arms and walked through the kitchen backdoor into the restaurant. He placed me on the island counter and pulled out his cell phone.
“I’m going to call the police and an ambulance.” He informed me. “Can you explain everything that happened?”
I bit my bottom lip. “I can’t be admitted to a hospital. I’m fine.”
I couldn’t afford being admitted there. I didn’t have the money.
“Let me get this straight. You were almost raped a moment ago. You’re obviously hurt, but you don’t want to get a medical check-up? Do I want to know the reason why?”
“It’s personal,” I explained.
He sighed, muttered something under his breath and said. “I have a first-aid kit in my car. I’ll go get it. Do you think you can wait for me here until then?”
I reached for the corner of his shirt. “Don’t leave me alone.”
And for the first time, I noticed his stormy blue eyes, almost like gems looking at me with something like sympathy. “The man’s lying out there, cold. He’s unconscious; I made sure of it. I’ll be back in less than one minute. I promise.”
I nodded reluctantly. As promised, the stranger was back beside me in a flash. He placed a small first-aid kit on the table and covered my shoulders with his jacket. I had been so caught up in the moment that I hadn’t even realized that my dress was almost torn in the front, and my bra was practically visible. I pulled the jacket close to me and zipped it up.
He brought a clean bowl of water, soaked a rag in it, and cleaned the wound on my knees and the bruise around my neck. He cleaned the wounds with precision like he’d done this a lot of times before.
“This is going to hurt a little.” He warned me before applying an ointment over the area. The bleeding had stopped so he covered it with a Band-Aid.
While he was busy treating my wounds, I had a good look at him. He had dark raven hair with wavy texture and eyes the color of gunmetal blue. He was really tall and well-built with defined cheekbones and a chiseled jawline. His face was serious like he never smiled or joked very often. Then it struck me. He was the same customer who’d been served coffee by Diego. I wondered how he’d found us. If he hadn’t been there, I didn’t even want to think what would have been the situation. I had short glimpses of a yellow tape strung in the alley, with my body stashed somewhere, naked.
I shuddered at the thought, and the man must have noticed it because he placed his hand on my shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay now. You’re safe with me.”
Tears streamed down my face without me even realizing it. “Thank you so much for what you did back there. If you hadn’t found me, I don’t know what could have—”
He placed his finger on my lips. “Hush now. It’s over. I will make sure that bastard goes to jail for this. We can’t undo what’s already been done, but what you can do right now is forget about this incident and move forward.”
I nodded in agreement. I’d always despised men; my father was one reason, along with some of my failed relationships. I knew that men wanted only one thing from any woman, and that love did not exist. I hadn’t met one man in my life who hadn’t tried to get his hand under my skirt. But right now, even when I’d been open, the stranger hadn’t even looked that way, so I guessed there were some exceptions.
I turned alert when I heard a car pull up into the parking lot, and I sat up straighter. A man walked in. He was also attractive and tall, but maybe just a few inches shorter than the knight. He had chestnut brown hair, and eyes the color of dark chocolate. When he looked at me, he passed me a nervous smile. “I’m Dr. Vincent, and I’m...”
“Well, you’re not technically a doctor yet,” the stranger interrupted. “A medical student would be a suitable term.”
Vincent threw him a look. “Well, he says that and yet calls me even when he’s got something as mild as a headache.”
I glanced towards the stranger. He had promised no doctors.
“Relax. Think of Vincent as a family doctor. He won’t betray any information that you may not want to disclose, so rest assured.”
Dr. Vincent was a nice man; he smiled a few times, unlike the stranger who didn’t seem to take jokes that well. The doctor made me feel comfortable, and that was what made me open up and tell him everything that had happened.
“What’s your name?” Dr. Vincent asked me after a thorough checkup.
“Kiara,” I responded.
“Kiara, it seems like your wounds aren’t deep, so you should be fine in a few days. I suggest you take some medicines that I’m going to prescribe you. Do you live around here?”
“Yes, just a few blocks away.”
“Good,” Dr. Vincent said and then pointed at the stranger. “He’s going to drop you home tonight.”
“Thank you,” I said, looking at both of them.
“You’re welcome.” Dr. Vincent said and then checked his watch. “It’s getting late. Jasper, you should take her back home.”
So the knight in shining armor’s name was Jasper.
The doctor left, and we waited until the police came in and arrested the man lying in the alley. I had bruise marks on my body that proved it was an assault, but as a formality, they told me to come down to the station to give a proper statement, and I told them I would since I had no other choice. Jasper assured them that he would make sure I was okay and that he would bring me to the station himself. When the police and the medics left, Jasper insisted that he drove me home. I didn’t protest and let him guide me to his car, which was some sleek sports model.
I slid into the passenger seat and practically melted into the soft leather. I sneaked a glance towards him. I could tell from the way he was dressed up and the glimmering Rolex on his wrist that he was a rich man.
Ten minutes later, he was parked outside my house: a rundown one-story home with creaking floorboards, a permanent leak in the ceiling, and an old quilt for a curtain. The neighborhood wasn’t Beverly Hills either, infested mostly by druggies, gangbangers, and prostitutes. Not a very friendly place to live in. I could almost imagine some of the neighbors peeking out of their windows to see why a posh car was parked outside our driveway. Jasper’s car stood out in this neighborhood like a sore thumb.
Jasper glanced at the old house then back at me, his gaze unwavering.
“Is this where you live?” He asked me, and I noticed how polite his tone was. It wasn’t the usual mocking tone that some people used with me when they saw where I lived.
“Yes,” I said. “Not exactly Buckingham Palace, is it?”
Jasper laughed. That was the first time I ever saw him laugh like that since we met. Casually, he raised his arm towards me and brushed the hair away from my face, and his fingers reached for my hand where he caressed my wrist. I knew at once that he’d seen the marks that I thought I’d carefully hidden.
“These marks on your wrist, they don’t seem like they have been inflicted by that bastard in the alley. They look old.” He pointed out. “You want to talk about it?”
I glanced out of the window. When I didn’t say a word, he continued. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-three,” I answered.
“You’re legally old enough to leave this goddamn place. Why are you still here?”
“Because my mom needs me,” I responded.
Jasper nodded and reached for his glove compartment. He retrieved a silver card out of a rectangular box and handed it to me. “If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, if you need help, do not hesitate to call me, Ms. Reeves.”
“Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me today.” I was genuinely touched by his gesture of going out of his way to make me feel alright. “And it’s alright if you call me Kiara.”
“Goodnight, Kiara.” I liked how my name sounded on his lips. He gave each syllable a meaning, making it sound beautiful.
Like the true gentleman that he was, he waited until I walked to my door, and only after I stepped inside, did his car drive away.
He’d addressed me as Ms. Reeves just a while ago before I told him that it was fine to use my first name. During any of our previous conversations, I couldn’t recall telling him my last name, so how had he known? I tried to think hard, but it didn’t make sense. Maybe my mind was foggy after today’s incident, I probably slipped my full name without realizing it, and Jasper seemed like someone smart enough to remember the smallest of details.
“Who was that man, Kiara?” Mom asked me as I unzipped out of the jacket and realized I hadn’t returned it back to him. “And what the hell happened to your face?”
I sneaked a glance towards the small table by the kitchen. Mom placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “If you’re looking for your daddy, he isn’t home. Don’t worry.”
I sighed, my feelings suddenly elevated. “I’m going upstairs to my room.”
I didn’t want to stress Mom by talking about what went down today. She was already going through enough. I went back to my room upstairs and filled the entire tub with warm water. I was careful with the jacket Jasper had given me. I hung it inside my closet before stripping off the already ruined Kimono and sank into the tub. My entire body ached as I made contact with the water, but it helped me soothe and forget all the vile things that had occurred today.
I walked out of the steaming bathroom a few minutes later, blow-dried my hair, and lay down on the bed. Exhaustion claimed my body as I drifted off, but then I had a dream. More like a nightmare. I was yet again in the alley, fighting off the man. It all played out like a videotape, and this time Jasper wasn’t there to help me. I tossed and turned in my bed until my eyes flew open, and I realized where I was.
Safe. In my room.
Acting on reflex, I walked to my old closet and pulled out Jasper’s jacket. I slept that night, snugging it close to myself. It smelled exactly like him; an intoxicating scent of his perfume and a hint of his body scent. I buried my face into it and anyone would have pegged my behavior as creepy, but I didn’t care. His jacket made me feel safe, and it helped me sleep peacefully that night.