“I’m already involved.” His eyes narrowed. “I’m not leaving here without you.” A muscle was ticking in his jaw and the tone in his voice suggested he could be just as stubborn as she was.
Staring up into the sincerity of those emerald cut eyes, his expression was deeply concerned. Her shoulders slumped. She was honestly too tired to fight anymore.
“Come on, pack some things and we’ll get out of here.” The rhythmic movement of his thumb pad on her inner wrist was soothing, and she looked down. His hands were large, but she knew even the size of them didn’t frighten her, they were gentle. Turning away from him, she crossed the room and removed a bag from the wardrobe and started to throw a few things into it as a jumble of thoughts ran through her mind. She couldn’t believe Pete had found her, and after the initial shock she had to admit she wasn’t surprised. The fear of his release date had been preying on her mind. Now she had to end it. Somehow she had to relinquish the hold he had over, take away the danger to the people she cared about. How? She didn’t know, but it had to end.
Tentatively, she touched her cheek and flinched. God it was sore. She had a blinding headache, but that was hardly surprising. He slapped her hard enough to knock her back off her feet. Looking at the clothes in the suitcase, she had no idea what she was packing. Her hands shook and her body felt boneless. She was fighting hard to keep from just slithering to the ground.
“You should have seen him, Simon. He had her by the throat. If I hadn’t arrived when I did, he might have killed her.” He shook as the hoarse spoken words sent a volcanic shudder through his whole body. The fear of what might have happened only just settling in his mind and that scared the shit out of him.
“Are you okay, Alex?” Simon asked.
“Sure just dandy,” he said sarcastically, and then realized his friend was only concerned.
“I’m sorry, Simon, I just can’t understand how a man can take his brute strength out on a woman like that. It just doesn’t bear thinking about how many times Lucy has been in that position.” He went to the large double refrigerator and pulled the cream out and shut the door with more force than intended. “I want to beat the living crap out of him.”
She didn’t have time to answer him. She ran up the stairs and was aware of his footsteps close behind her. He sat beside her, down on his haunches, holding back her long braided hair with a towel in his hand.
“Please, please just go away and leave me alone.”
As another bout of retching hit her, he didn’t say a word, just kept of rubbing her back and whispering soothingly. Despite being ill, security stole over her from his presence despite her embarrassment. She took the towel from his hands, confidant she was finished. Saying nothing, he lifted her and took her to the bedroom and set her down on a large double bed, its satin bedspread cool against the heat of her palms.
He sat beside her and narrowed his eyes. “Lucy, when did you last eat?”
“Two days ago.”
He let out an expletive that she tried to ignore.
“For goodness sake, no wonder you were ill and nothing was coming up. Good grief woman, why do you have this debilitating intent of not taking care of yourself? It’s crazy.”
“But then I could feel him, his presence behind me, those words, that voice. I turned around and I could see something glinting in the dark. It was too late for me to realize he had a knife.” She swallowed what little moisture she had in her mouth and bent to pick up her cup of tea and sip the now cool liquid. Her hands were slightly unsteady as she gripped the mug with both hands. She was aware Alex was struggling. He was leaning forward, his arms pressed down on his thighs and his hands dangled between his legs. It was too late for her to stop now however much she could see that he was totally horrified. His expression said it all, but she forced herself to go on. She had to get to the end, whatever the outcome.
“A sharp pain across my chest and I realized I had been stabbed. I remember falling to the floor and thinking, This is it, this is the end. Then all of a sudden I wanted to fight back and the knife slid across my forehead. There was blood everywhere. I was screaming for help.” She put the cup down; her hands were trembling too much. She wrapped her arms around her midriff and closed her eyes as the terror came back. She shuddered with the memory of the pain.
Alex stood and walked toward her, his breathing deep and uneven. However, she knew if he touched her, she would never finish. She put her hand up for him to indicate to him to stay where he was.
He stopped, but didn’t sit back down and just stood looking at her. He held his tall frame rigid and pushed his clenched hands into his trouser pockets. The frustration was evident in his face.