Emma's Redemption Ch. 01byhiddenvalley©
Emma raced down the dark street, rain and wind whipping around her.
She gasped desperately under her voice as she heard the footsteps behind her pick up pace. "No!" The word was a moan.
Not daring to look behind her for fear of falling on the wet ground, she darted down a back ally, hoping to lose her follower.
Her heart jumped in her throat as she heard the footsteps continue down the alley behind her and she frantically raced around a corner--only to find a brick wall blocking her way. With a sob she ran her hands over the wall desperately, praying desperately for a way out.
Hearing the footsteps getting closer, she abandoned her useless search and instead hid behind a lone dumpster.
As the footsteps drew closer, she held her breath, hoping against all hope that her pursuer would not see her hiding in the shadows. Crouched as she was, all she saw was the feet as they rounded the corner of the dumpster.
"Emma." The tone that washed over her was colder than the rain pouring down. She couldn't repress a shudder.
"Emma. I see you there, crouching like a pathetic dog. Come to me!"
Glancing up, Emma cringed back not only from the out-stretched hand but also from the disgust and censure so evident in his tone.
"Emma." The displeasure in his tone made her sink closer to the ground, trying to make herself smaller.
She shuddered, shaking her head.
"Emma. I said COME HERE! If you do not come now then you know what I will do."
Emma shook. She did know.
"You will come to me at some point--why make it harder on yourself? You will be punished either way, but it will be so much worse if you wait."
Trembling, she gathered the courage to look him in the face. His cold grey eyes held not even the slightest smidgen of warmth, and there was a sneer on his arrogant face as he looked down at her.
He is quite good looking, she thought to herself. It was the truth. At 6'4" 250 lbs. he completely dwarfed her petite 5'3" 120 lbs. His face was pale and free from stubble--not a worker's face but rather a corporate executive's. An aristocratic nose was set above firm lips, which right now were drawn tight with anger. Lines furred across his brow as he cold eyes continued to stare at her.
She watched the rage begin to build in those eyes which brought home the point only to clearly: this was a dangerous man, one you did not want to be on the wrong side of. His rage could be lethal.
Rage which was at the moment centered on her.
Too late she remembered that she was not to look in the face: she had broken the Cardinal rule by doing so.
In a blur his hand flashed out and cracked against her face. She could feel the blood begin to trickle down from where the ring on his hand had cut her.
"Please Lucian--stop!" Any deflection of rage that she had hoped to achieve was lost as the rage boiled into madness.
"I." A blow interrupted the flow of words.
She gave a whimper of pain.
The whimper grew into a moan.
A sickening crunch was heard.
Emma's body fell backwards, just narrowly missing the side of the dumpster as the abuse her body had sustained was too much. Mercifully she passed out.
"Worthless, fu--" Lucian gave vent to his feelings by kicking Emma viciously in the ribs.
"Hey!" A voice echoed down the alley. "What is going on down there?"
Lucian swore. "Nothing!" Lucian snarled at the man approaching. "Mind your own business."
Catching sight of Emma the man went still. He then stared at Lucian. "Move away from the girl." Quiet menace laced his voice.
"She is only a worthless whore, no need to concern yourself with her."
Alex stared at the man. "Worthless whore or not, no one deserves this treatment." Keeping his eyes trained on the man, Alex pulled out his phone and dialed 911.
"Drop the phone!" The man moved closer.
Alex raised an eyebrow and continued to place the call.
"Shit!" The man swore and after giving one last glance at the woman lying motionless in the shadows, he turned and raced off down the alley.
Alex turned to follow him but turned back upon hearing a faint sound from the woman.
"911, what is your emergency?"
"I need an ambulance at 23rd West Eastline Road."
"Are you injured sir?"
"No, there is a woman in an alley who has been beaten."
"Authorities have been dispatched and an ambulance is on its way. Sir I am going to ask you to stay on--"
Alex flipped the phone shut and strode over the woman. Blood trickled from a few head wounds, and bruises were already appearing across her whole face. Her honey blond hair was streaked with dirt and lying in a messy heap beneath her head.
Afraid to move her as he didn't know the extent of her injuries, he studied her intensively. Even lying in the mud and rain, covered in bruises, she was beautiful. He could only imagine what she looked like cleaned up.
High cheekbones were swept by long graceful eyelashes. Her nose was petite, and her mouth, though small, was full and lush. A slender neck led down to a chest which boasted firm 32C breasts whose nipples showed up through the wet blouse and bra.
A moan sounded which jerked his attention to her face.
"Miss? Can you hear me?"
Her eyes opened briefly, showing shockingly bright blue eyes which widened in terror at the sight of him.
Emma hurt all over. She felt wet, and there was a persistent dripping of something onto her face. When she tried to move her hand to wipe it off, a searing pain rushed through her, causing a moan to break free.
"Miss? Can you hear me?"
An unexpected voice had her eyes flying open in reaction, only to see the steel grey eyes staring down at her.
"No!" She whimpered. Why couldn't she escape him?
She tried to recoil from the hand approaching her face, but the movement jarred her body so badly that the pain overcame her and she once more sunk back into the waves of oblivion.
Alex frowned down at her. There had been such real terror in her eyes...and it wasn't hard to guess why. That man had done a real number on her.
Hearing sirens approaching, he sighed and left her side to go to the entrance of the alley to show the paramedics where she was. Once there, she was detained by a police officer who wanted to take his statement.
"And how did you find her?"
"I saw her purse on the ground at the entrance to the alley. I then heard sounds coming from the alley, someone crying out in pain. When I got down there, I found a man viciously kicking her repeatedly. He ran off when I was dialing 911."
The officer frowned. "Could you identify him?"
"Yes, if I saw him again."
"I guess we'll just have to hope that the lady can tell us who he is."
The next time that Emma became aware of her surroundings, she was lying in a hospital bed. Various tubes ran out of her arms and into machines, some of which made weird beeping sounds. She felt stiff and when she tried to move pain lanced through her so sharply that a tear ran down her cheek.
A voice to her right startled her. Turning her head she saw a man sitting on the chair next to her bed. He had dark brown hair which fell in a messy array around his face, and kind smile which lit up his eyes--his steel grey eyes.
Her breath hissed out before she could stop it.
The man moved towards her with a look of concern.
"Are you in pain? Would you like me to call the nurse?"
Emma stared at him mutely.
"I'm sorry; you don't even know who I am. My name is Alex Conti. I would offer to shake your hand, but I fear that it may do you more harm than good to observe that pleasantry."
Why does that name sound familiar? She wondered.
"Alex is short for Alexandros. I had a Greek mother and Italian father." He grinned at her. "It made for an interesting mixture of temper and likes and dislikes."
No wonder he is so handsome, flashed across her conscious before she ruthlessly squashed it. She could not get involved with anyone. Especially someone who reminded her of Julian. She just needed to get out of the hospital and try to resume her normal life. She didn't know why Julian left her in that alley, but she hoped that that meant he was leaving her alone for good.
At that moment there was a knock on the door, and a policeman stuck his head inside.
"Ah, you are awake miss. Do you mind if I come in and ask you a few questions?"
She shook her head.
Alex frowned at her. "You haven't spoken a word. Does your throat hurt?"
She started to shake her head but changed her mind and nodded. It did hurt.
"Can you talk miss?" The officer asked.
She shook her head. Why? She wondered. Why do I want them to think that I can't talk?
"That's alright miss. I'll just ask you some yes or no questions for now. We found your purse at the entrance to the alley. Is your name Emma Taylor?"
"Do you have friends or family that can be contacted for you?"
She shook her head.
"Do you know who it was that attacked you?"
Emma froze. She knew she should have been expecting that question, but it caught her off guard. She just couldn't tell them.
She shook her head.
The officer sighed. "Could you identify him in a line-up?"
Once again she shook her head.
"Alright miss, thank you for your time. We will be back in contact with you once you are able to speak to get details on what exactly happened. Take care." And with that the officer turned and walked out the door.
Emma glanced up at the man who had been standing silently the whole time next to her bed. He was frowning at her.
"Emma, was it?"
"Emma, you know you don't have anything to fear, correct?"
She frowned up at him.
"I saw you hesitate when the officer asked if you knew your attacker. You knew who that man was. Emma--you can't protect him. What he did to you was a crime."
She raised an eyebrow, silently asking "And how do you know so much?"
"I was the one who found you," he said, correctly interpreting her look. "You were badly beaten and hardly looked alive. Now," he pulled the chair up close to the bed. "Why are you protecting him?"
Emma glared at him and then turned away. She was already regretting her decision not to speak. There was nothing she would have liked better than to tell this man off. Who did he think he was, acting like her personal protector?
He smiled at her, as if guessing her thoughts. Growing angrier, she realized that moving her fingers didn't hurt that badly. At least moving her middle finger didn't.
Glancing at him and then her hand to make sure he got the message, she was incensed to see his grin grow broader.
"Oh, you are a feisty one, aren't you? I can only imagine what you would be saying if you could speak!"
She glared at him again, but was distracted by the door opening and the doctor coming in.
The doctor picked up her chart at the end of the bed and then at Alex. "Excuse me sir, but if you could give us a moment...?" It was posed as a question but Alex knew what it really meant. Get out.
"Certainly doctor. But be forewarned---she's a spitfire." With a chuckle he rose and headed out the door, barely resisting the urge to turn and wink at her.
Once outside the door however, his smile dropped. Nothing incensed him more than someone beating up on someone smaller. And he knew that he was right in guessing that she was trying to protect someone. But why?
The next morning Alex stopped in at the hospital to see how Emma was doing. He didn't know why he felt such a need to protect her, but he did.
Walking into her room, he stopped. It was empty.
"Excuse me." He stopped a passing nurse. "Where is the patient that was in this room?"
The nurse stepped in and frowned. "She was here an hour ago. I'll go see if she checked out."
Alex had barely waited two minutes before the nurse returned.
"She never checked out, but she was seen leaving through the front doors. The receptionist remembered her because the clothes she was wearing were bloody."
"Damn." Alex ran his hands through his hair. "Do you have an address for her?"
The nurse looked at him. "That is confidential. I am afraid I can't give that information to you." Turning, she left the room.
Alex stared out the window.
Why did she run? he wondered. Why was she protecting that man? What has she to hide?
End of Chapter 1