She jumped on her assailant’s back and grabbed him around the head, using her short fingernails to try to take his eyes out. When he raised a hand to remove her finger, her rescuer was able to release a hand from around the man’s neck. Pulling it back into a fist, he hit the bastard in the face. The police crashed through her front door just as the man fell backwards taking Lena down with him.
“Halt,” the first officer said that found them, holding a gun pointed in their direction.
Stephan immediately held up his hands and looked down as the woman struggled to get out from under the heavy weight of her attacker. “That man broke into this apartment, officer,” Stephan quickly explained, “and attacked this woman.”
Two more officers stood in the hallway. The first officer had stepped into the room and helped the woman up. “Is that true?” Ma’am he asked.
Stephan put his hands down, while another cop pulled the attacker to his feet.
“Yes, yes that’s true, that bastard forced his way into my apartment, and if…if it hadn’t been for this man,” the woman said looking at Stephan, “he would have hurt me.”
“Do you live here, Ma’am?” the officer asked.
“Yes, this is my apartment. I live alone, and no, I do not know that bastard,” she said with venom in her voice pointing at her assailant.
The second officer placed handcuffs on her attacker, while reading him a Miranda warning. The man appeared dazed and blood trickled from the corner of one eye, he didn’t quite seem to understand what was going on. He shook his head and only moaned for his efforts. They all moved aside so he could be taken out of the room.
The first officer looked at Stephan and the woman and said, “Are you the one who put in the call?” he asked addressing Stephan.
“Yes, yes I am. My name’s Stephan Grayson. I left my phone on so the dispatcher could hear what was going on. Is she still on the line?”
“No. She disconnected as soon as we entered.” A third officer looked at the woman, “Ma’am, are you okay? Would you like us to call an ambulance, have a doctor take a look at you?”
“No…I’m fine. He…he stopped him,” she said looking at Stephan. “Stephan, that’s your name. Lena, Lena Douglas, Thank you. Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
The first officer stepped aside. “Here, why don’t we head into the living room so you can sit down,” he said. He turned around and Lena and Stephan followed him out to the living room. The officer gestured to the sofa. “Go ahead and have a seat.” The other remaining officer looked around the apartment before returning to the living room area.
“Are you the only one’s here?” he asked.
“Yes,” Lena responded putting her head back on the couch.
“Ma’am, are you sure you don’t at least want to have a doctor take a look at you?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine,” she said without opening her eyes.
“If you won’t let a doctor take a look at you, I think you should put some ice on that,” her rescuer suggested pointing at her face.
“There’s some ice in the freezer.” She started to rise like she was going to get it when Stephan spoke up again. “Don’t move. I’ll get it.” Lena would have said something at his commanding attitude but her face began to throb. And the man had just saved her life. She relaxed back into the sofa.
“I need to ask you a few questions,” the first officer said. “Do you think you’re up to it?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
Stephan came back to the sofa and sat down placing the ice he had wrapped in a paper towel on the bruised side of her face. As Lena felt the cold of the homemade ice pack against her tender skin, she instinctively reached up to hold it in place herself, but covered Stephan’s hand instead. But far from wanting him to remove his hand she pressed down on it, trapping his hand there. She had no idea what had gotten into her, she put her hand down and kept her eyes on the police officer. Stephan, however, kept his hand on the icepack, making no move to relinquish his place at her side.
The officer took out a notepad and began to take her statement. Then Stephan gave his. Less than an hour later, the two remaining officers left. They made one suggestion, even though the lock hadn’t been broken; they thought it might be best she not stay by herself tonight. They told her to go to a friend’s or check into a hotel. Stephan and Lena remained on the couch staring at each other. Lena put her head back on the couch and covered her eyes with her arm.
“Headache?” Stephan asked.
“Stay right here.”
“Not going anywhere,” she said with a slight smile.
Stephan got up and as soon as he did, Lena put her hand down and opened her eyes to look at him. “Where're you going?” she asked nervously.
“I’m going to see if you have anything for that headache,” he replied.
“Oh yes, in the bathroom in the medicine cabinet.”
Stephan took a minute to gather his thoughts in the bathroom. He had no idea what had come over him tonight. But what ever it was it brought him into Lena’s life. He was glad that he hadn’t just sat on the street or drive by when he saw her being attacked earlier. He was even gladder that he did something about stopping her from getting any more hurt than she already was. Bruises could heal. When she had turned over on the bed and he first saw her face he thought he was looking into the face of an angel. In the mist of all that violence she was still so full of grace and beauty, she was stunning.
He came out of the bathroom and looked at the rumpled bed. He wasn’t going to let her stay here by herself tonight. What was he thinking, they were strangers. He couldn’t stay with her. She probably had family, friends, a boyfriend she could call to come stay with her or go to them. But the thought of her staying with anyone else, of having a boyfriend caused his guts to clench into knots. He left the bedroom and went to the kitchen for a glass of water for her.
“Here,” he said returning to sit on the couch beside her, offering her the glass of water and ibuprofen.
“Thank you, again,” she said taking the things away from him.
“Do you have someone you can call to come and stay with you?” he asked. But what he really wanted to ask was did she have a boyfriend or someone significant in her life.
“…no actually,” she hesitated. “I just moved to the area. I’m originally from DC, I just moved to Seattle a month ago. I started a new job and am only now getting to know anyone at work.”
“Oh,” was his brilliant reply, when he wanted to jump for joy, no significant other.
“But that’s okay…I…I don’t think I want to stay here tonight anyway.” She turned her head to look toward her bedroom. “At least not until I can clean up in there, and I’m just too tired to do it tonight.” She was going to get rid of those sheets before she lay on the bed again.
“That’s understandable,” Stephan replied nodding.
“I’ll just go to a hotel.”
“Why don’t you stay with me instead,” Stephan said looking at her.
Stephan didn’t know what made him say that but he wasn’t sorry he’d made the offer, not one bit. He didn’t want to leave her, he wanted to be with her, and he wanted her to want to be with him. He didn’t understand his still continuing need to protect this woman, even though the danger had long passed.
Lena looked into eyes as green as the leaves on the trees at the height of summer, framed by dark lashes, giving testament to that old cliché, bedroom eyes. Russet colored hair fell in layered waves down around his collar, looking no worst for wear after his fight with her assailant. A squared determined face, stared at her. She looked at strong jaw lines, a nose with a slight flare at the end and lips that could curve into the most beautiful smile, and she smiled as his lips began to curve.
“Come home, with me,” he said softly.
She didn’t hesitate. This white man saved her where another one tried to destroy her. “Okay. I’ll need a few things.” Was she crazy? Should she have gone and gotten her head examined? This entire night was crazy. She left one city that supposedly had a host of gang and other criminal activity but in the 25 years she’d lived there nothing had ever come close to threatening her existence. She’d had to travel across the country to come to one of the cities that supposedly didn’t have high crime problems, only to be mugged and saved from worst by the most beautiful man she’d even lay eyes on.
Without giving herself time to think, she rose from the sofa and immediately felt dizzy. But Stephan was there taking her arm and lowering her gently back down. “Easy,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me what you need and where it is and I’ll pack everything up for you?”
Lena stared at him. Is this guy for real? “No, I think I better do that. Just…just help me to stand. I’ll be alright once I’m up.”
He looked at her skeptically, “Are you sure?”
No, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. She trusted him not to harm her; he had after all saved her life. But, even more than that she trusted her instincts about him.