The lights of the small town glowed like an improbably jewel in the deepening shadows. It was too far to walk on her own – I’d left unprepared and unarmed, so I sat behind the wheel of my piece of shit Ford I’d stolen from my ex, thinking.
I could stay there, having water and blankets in the trunk, but i was too afraid to stay in one place too long. By now he’d have begun his search and that meant time was short. The bruises were still livid on my skin, marking each place that he hurt me, a show of dominance for everyone to see, and several other injuries that no one would ever be witness to.
If I left, it meant I was braver then I believed. Or stupider.
Instead, and against my mind’s better judgement, I broke down and prayed for something to be easy, just once, for someone to rescue me. The psychotic bitch that lived in my head laughed, growling, “there is no god, no god, and no one cares enough to bother.” Not here anyway, I agreed silently, and sighed as I yanked on the door release and stepped from the POS into the cool night air, and into the waiting arms of a smiling stranger.
Frightened I tried to pull back, and succeeded only in banging my tender back into the roof of the car, making me hiss and my injuries wail. I stared at him in a way I hoped was intimidating or at the very least enough to make him step away.
“Need a hand?” his lightly toned voice asked, his eyes returning my stare probe for probe unflinchingly. “Jes has a boner for her saviour….give the girl a bone of her own,” Crazy chanted, peeking at him from her cage. Intrigued.
I swallowed uneasily and nodded, waiting for him to release me and nervously averted my gaze when he made no move to do so. His warmth was like a fire in the chill and the words I harshly made myself repeat echoed in my head as he whispered in my ear, his lips so close to my skin that I could feel their movement and it made me shiver. He smiled, his big hand brushing away the locks of hair that had fallen across my forehead, and frowned when I flinched away from his touch.
I hadn’t expected to meet an angel, albeit one that had probably heard more of the hallelujah chorus from the women he’d had in his bed than the ones that came from the inside of a church. Whatever the reason he was put here, I was relieved to see his face as night fell, and the chill began to creep in.
He was hanging half into the engine compartment when I found myself staring at his ass instead of paying attention to his words, and snapped back to when he spoke again, “Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes you get you get it. My name Is … Where did you get your engine work done? Its a mess!”
In spite of myself I laughed out loud, startled by the echo and the answering coyote song. His amused eyes peeked around the uplifted hood, making me laugh harder. It hurt, the barely healed breaks complaining as I inhaled and wrapped my arms around my aching ribs, eyes streaming at was really not that funny.
“My ex-husband,” I sobered, the laughter dying in my chest as realisation set in, “he knows everything about nothing. It’s a wonder I made it this far alive, and I’d expect he’s not far behind. Can you get me on my way…what did you say your name was?
He peeled off the gloves the wore on his hands, and slammed the hood closed before coming closer. I could feel him closing in, eyes on my face as i looked over his shoulder to the glowing safety of the town.
“My name is Brian Denton, and I’m sorry but there is no way you are going anywhere tonight.”
“Pardon me? Even if I have to walk into town, I am not staying here.”
Brian laughed out loud, shaking his head at me and holding up his hands. It must be written all over my face, the fear. In the distance, a flutter of movement, a shadow, here and then gone, back again and I know I am dead already. The Reaper stands on the sandy knoll, the frayed ends of his robe drawing runes in at his feet. Crazy chants in my head, Jes, she sings, maybe you’ll be fucked to death…what a way to go.
“My bike is just there,” Brian points to the vague shadow some ways away, “I could take you into town. Get a little rest and call all the tow truck in the morning.”
Reaper watches, and I feel that he is waiting for my answer. It’s a double-edged sword and I’m really not sure which side to take. If I stay here, I will be alone. If I go with him, i’m being forced place my trust in another human again. And I’m not sure that he wouldn’t hurt me. He is a stranger after all.
Reaper is closer, he stands behind Brian with a glow of knowledge in his eye and I nod to them both, acceptance and understanding before turning away into my car to gather the essentials. There isn’t much, and I manage to stuff it all into a small duffle bag. Behind me I hear the noise of tires on sand, and the sensation of eyes on my ass. Time to go. I stand straight with a grimace, mentally running through my belongings for traces of me. I should be safe.
“Ready?” I turn with a small smile that makes my swollen lips sting, to see him close, again, this time holding a helmet out to me. The draw of the lights was strong and I slipped my bag over my shoulder and grabbed the helmet, “Let’s go.”
“Wait! I still don’t know your name. Hi, I’m Brian.” He holds out his well worked hand with a smile, and I take it, with a bigger smile. “Hello. My name is Jes.”
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