Google+ Followers

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No post this week...

I'm taking a break this week. The story will continue next Tuesday. In the meantime, make sure to check out http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/ all this week for an awesome interview with a great author!! Have a great week!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chapter Ten...


Don't forget to check out the Diamond Mine
As always, some of God's beauty to Jumpstart the day...
 

 

 

 
 
~ Chapter Ten ~


Arianna felt so tired. Her eyelids drooped and her head felt full of fur. It had been such a long day already. The arguing with her dad had to stop. She didn’t understand why he hated Justin so much. He was her champion. Her Superman.

“Arianna.”

How was baby Chance? Her heart ached. Tears of sorrow jumped to her eyes but she blinked them away. It was time to be a big girl now. This wasn’t going to get resolved by her crying like a baby.

“Arianna!”

Her father’s voice invaded her private thoughts. She turned to him. “Yes Daddy?”

“We’re going to move you to a private facility. Somewhere safe.”

Arianna’s mother looked at him in surprise.

Already knowing her father’s main reason, she asked, “Why?”

“You’re not safe here.”

“But Daddy…”

“No buts. It’s settled.”

She looked at him, twisting her lips in confusion. “But how could it be settled? You haven’t even talked to anyone yet.”

“I don’t need to. My word is law.”

At his words, her body iced over, the cold so invading she could scarcely breathe. She thought back to so many occasions where ‘the monster’ had said the same exact phrase: My word is law. Why had Daddy said that? She looked at him in suspicion. With a braveness she didn’t feel, she said, “I have an idea.”

Her mother jumped in with a quick, hopeful, “What?”

Arianna turned to look at Justin, pleading with her eyes. “I could stay at Justin’s.”

His mouth fell open but to his credit he didn’t object. Arianna had been sheltered in a way, but she knew male interest when she saw it. She’d experienced it with him so many times it wasn’t funny. She’d even used it against him to get what she wanted. Shame filled her at the thought. But the truth was he’d had no intention of letting her go and she had to have some kind of bargaining chip. That’s how she’d ended up with baby Chance. She felt the tender smile as it spread across her face. Her heart yearned for him in a way she’d never experienced. She needed him. She looked at Justin.

Justin gave her a quizzical smile. “Are you okay, Arianna?”

She jumped a bit, not expecting him to speak. “y…yes. Why?”

He gave her a gentle smile. “You seem preoccupied.”

Heart pounding against her chest, she smiled. She was falling in love with him. But was it from gratitude, or real attraction? She shrugged. It didn’t matter, did it? “I’m missing the baby.”

The look he gave her was fierce and earnest. “We’ll find him.”

It was funny how they could have a conversation even while her parents argued in the background. It was like they weren’t even part of her real world, anymore. She smiled once more. That could be a good thing, and a bad one. She laid a hand on his as it lay on the rail of her bed. “I know we will. I just yearn for him so bad.” The tears she’d been holding in broke free and rolled down her face. “But I want him now.”

Justin bent over and pulled her upper body in for a hug. “I know, Honey. I know.”

*

A noise behind him alerted Justin to the fact her father had stood up.

The cold, hard words were expected, and Justin had been waiting for them. “Get your hands off my daughter, boy.”

He gently laid her back on the mattress and turned toward the older man. “I was just comforting her. Something you should’ve already been doing. She’s been through a traumatic experience. She is physically and emotionally spent. She needs her family’s love, not condemnation.”

Her mother nodded her head emphatically in agreement.

If possible, Arianna’s father’s look got even darker. “Don’t tell me what you think I need to do for my own daughter. How many kids do you have, young man?”

Justin took a deep breath and blew it out, calming himself. “I don’t have to have children to know what to do when something bad happens. Children, of all ages, want the same thing when they are hurt or scared. They want love.”

Her father snorted in disgust. “Whatever. We’re still moving her to a private facility and you won’t know where to look for her. You will cease to be a problem.”

Justin’s blood ran cold at her father’s words. He really was going to keep them separated. He couldn’t let that happen. His heart already cried, even at the thought of losing her. She was his. What? He stopped to examine his thoughts. Was he going crazy? Maybe so, but he knew he wouldn’t let her go without a fight. He began to formulate a plan in his mind.

Arianna looked at him in exasperation.

Had she already called to him? He’d been lost in his plans. Would she go along with what he was thinking? He thought so. He smiled. “Did you say something?”

“Yes. I asked if I could stay at your place.”

He returned her smile with a million-watter of his own. “Of course. I have plenty of room for you.” But he knew he wouldn’t take her there. Her parents would find her…and he didn’t trust her Dad. Period. But his mom had a cabin up by Shadow Lake. It was the perfect place to hide until the madman was caught. But he knew he couldn’t take her up there un-chaperoned…unless…he grinned even bigger. His plan had just culminated in something he thought they’d both agree with. Marriage.

“Justin!”

His head jerked at her raised voice. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

Her tiny eyebrows furrowed. “I asked when we could go.”

He smiled at her cuteness. She definitely had to put on some weight, but she was beautiful. “I’m not sure. You still need medical attention… And then another thought popped into his mind; the nurse from earlier. If he could get her to come along and care for Arianna, they could most likely leave right away…

“All right Justin. I’m beginning to get the feeling you don’t want me to come stay with you.”

He jumped up. “That’s not true. I do. We just have to make sure you’re healthy. That’s the most important thing right now.”

She threw her father a sideways glance and whispered, “Besides Baby Chance.”

Justin pulled her hands into his. They were cold and clammy. “Exactly.”

Justin had been purposely ignoring her father’s anger, but he let loose with it, causing Arianna to jump in fear at his angry, hate-filled words. “You are not…I repeat, not, going anywhere with this bum. You do not know him, nor will you ‘get to know him.’ It’s out of the question. He isn’t even in the same category of someone we would think of allowing you to get to know.”

“Daddy!”

“Shut-up Arianna. I’ve spoken and that’s that. I’ll have the staff pack your things while I call the facility I have in mind. You’re going to love it. The service is a lot faster and the food a million times better.”

His dismissal was rude and overbearing. Justin couldn’t imagine having to grow-up in a house with someone like that. Poor Arianna. She’d been dealt a bum rap her whole life. How could someone like that even come to God?

Arianna didn’t say anything else, but gave Justin a look. He tried to convey the need for a private talk but didn’t know if she understood it.

She turned to her mother. “Mom, could you and Daddy go down and get me something to eat and drink? The doctor said earlier I was on a full diet but I wasn’t hungry at lunch so I didn’t eat what they brought.”

“Of course Dear. What would you like?”

“Oh I don’t know. Meatloaf sounds good.” She turned t o Justin. “What do you want?”

“I’m fine…”

“Nonsense. Mom will buy for you, too.”

“Just a salad then.”

Her father turned and snorted in derision. “A salad? It figures. No wonder you’re no bigger than a twig.” His hands came to rest on his generous gut and Arianna and Justin both laughed.

Arianna’s mother looked over at her husband. “Just leave the boy alone. He hasn’t done anything to you and he’s trying to help our daughter. My goodness, I don’t know what’s hot into you.”

Her Dad grabbed her mom’s arm. “Fine, let’s go.” He propelled her out of the room.

Justin breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“I have an idea, but we only have a few minutes to execute it.”

She laid her hands on top of his. “Tell me.”

“My mom has a cabin up near Shadow Lake. We can go there. I won’t take you to my apartment because your dad would just find us.” He looked at Arianna, used his fingers to gently nudge her face to look into his. “But there’s a catch.”

Her eyes grew wide. Full of curiosity. “What?”

He dropped the bomb, not giving himself time to back out. “We have to get married.”

She screeched, “Married?”

The hurt that coursed through him was a surprise. Why did it hurt so much? It would be a marriage of convenience, not love. “It wouldn’t have to be permanent, but I am a Christian and I don’t feel it would be right to take you away to a cabin on the lake without being married.”

She seemed to be thinking it over. Slowly, she began to nod. “Yes, I think you’re right. That will work. Yes, I will marry you.”

And just like that, Justin got engaged.

 

Chapter Ten...


Don't forget to check out the Diamond Mine
 
And as always, some of God's beauty to jumpstart the day...






 
 
~ Chapter Ten ~


Arianna felt so tired. Her eyelids drooped and her head felt full of fur. It had been such a long day already. The arguing with her dad had to stop. She didn’t understand why he hated Justin so much. He was her champion. Her Superman.

“Arianna.”

How was baby Chance? Her heart ached. Tears of sorrow jumped to her eyes but she blinked them away. It was time to be a big girl now. This wasn’t going to get resolved by her crying like a baby.

“Arianna!”

Her father’s voice invaded her private thoughts. She turned to him. “Yes Daddy?”

“We’re going to move you to a private facility. Somewhere safe.”

Arianna’s mother looked at him in surprise.

Already knowing her father’s main reason, she asked, “Why?”

“You’re not safe here.”

“But Daddy…”

“No buts. It’s settled.”

She looked at him, twisting her lips in confusion. “But how could it be settled? You haven’t even talked to anyone yet.”

“I don’t need to. My word is law.”

At his words, her body iced over, the cold so invading she could scarcely breathe. She thought back to so many occasions where ‘the monster’ had said the same exact phrase: My word is law. Why had Daddy said that? She looked at him in suspicion. With a braveness she didn’t feel, she said, “I have an idea.”

Her mother jumped in with a quick, hopeful, “What?”

Arianna turned to look at Justin, pleading with her eyes. “I could stay at Justin’s.”

His mouth fell open but to his credit he didn’t object. Arianna had been sheltered in a way, but she knew male interest when she saw it. She’d experienced it with him so many times it wasn’t funny. She’d even used it against him to get what she wanted. Shame filled her at the thought. But the truth was he’d had no intention of letting her go and she had to have some kind of bargaining chip. That’s how she’d ended up with baby Chance. She felt the tender smile as it spread across her face. Her heart yearned for him in a way she’d never experienced. She needed him. She looked at Justin.

Justin gave her a quizzical smile. “Are you okay, Arianna?”

She jumped a bit, not expecting him to speak. “y…yes. Why?”

He gave her a gentle smile. “You seem preoccupied.”

Heart pounding against her chest, she smiled. She was falling in love with him. But was it from gratitude, or real attraction? She shrugged. It didn’t matter, did it? “I’m missing the baby.”

The look he gave her was fierce and earnest. “We’ll find him.”

It was funny how they could have a conversation even while her parents argued in the background. It was like they weren’t even part of her real world, anymore. She smiled once more. That could be a good thing, and a bad one. She laid a hand on his as it lay on the rail of her bed. “I know we will. I just yearn for him so bad.” The tears she’d been holding in broke free and rolled down her face. “But I want him now.”

Justin bent over and pulled her upper body in for a hug. “I know, Honey. I know.”

*

A noise behind him alerted Justin to the fact her father had stood up.

The cold, hard words were expected, and Justin had been waiting for them. “Get your hands off my daughter, boy.”

He gently laid her back on the mattress and turned toward the older man. “I was just comforting her. Something you should’ve already been doing. She’s been through a traumatic experience. She is physically and emotionally spent. She needs her family’s love, not condemnation.”

Her mother nodded her head emphatically in agreement.

If possible, Arianna’s father’s look got even darker. “Don’t tell me what you think I need to do for my own daughter. How many kids do you have, young man?”

Justin took a deep breath and blew it out, calming himself. “I don’t have to have children to know what to do when something bad happens. Children, of all ages, want the same thing when they are hurt or scared. They want love.”

Her father snorted in disgust. “Whatever. We’re still moving her to a private facility and you won’t know where to look for her. You will cease to be a problem.”

Justin’s blood ran cold at her father’s words. He really was going to keep them separated. He couldn’t let that happen. His heart already cried, even at the thought of losing her. She was his. What? He stopped to examine his thoughts. Was he going crazy? Maybe so, but he knew he wouldn’t let her go without a fight. He began to formulate a plan in his mind.

Arianna looked at him in exasperation.

Had she already called to him? He’d been lost in his plans. Would she go along with what he was thinking? He thought so. He smiled. “Did you say something?”

“Yes. I asked if I could stay at your place.”

He returned her smile with a million-watter of his own. “Of course. I have plenty of room for you.” But he knew he wouldn’t take her there. Her parents would find her…and he didn’t trust her Dad. Period. But his mom had a cabin up by Shadow Lake. It was the perfect place to hide until the madman was caught. But he knew he couldn’t take her up there un-chaperoned…unless…he grinned even bigger. His plan had just culminated in something he thought they’d both agree with. Marriage.

“Justin!”

His head jerked at her raised voice. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

Her tiny eyebrows furrowed. “I asked when we could go.”

He smiled at her cuteness. She definitely had to put on some weight, but she was beautiful. “I’m not sure. You still need medical attention… And then another thought popped into his mind; the nurse from earlier. If he could get her to come along and care for Arianna, they could most likely leave right away…

“All right Justin. I’m beginning to get the feeling you don’t want me to come stay with you.”

He jumped up. “That’s not true. I do. We just have to make sure you’re healthy. That’s the most important thing right now.”

She threw her father a sideways glance and whispered, “Besides Baby Chance.”

Justin pulled her hands into his. They were cold and clammy. “Exactly.”

Justin had been purposely ignoring her father’s anger, but he let loose with it, causing Arianna to jump in fear at his angry, hate-filled words. “You are not…I repeat, not, going anywhere with this bum. You do not know him, nor will you ‘get to know him.’ It’s out of the question. He isn’t even in the same category of someone we would think of allowing you to get to know.”

“Daddy!”

“Shut-up Arianna. I’ve spoken and that’s that. I’ll have the staff pack your things while I call the facility I have in mind. You’re going to love it. The service is a lot faster and the food a million times better.”

His dismissal was rude and overbearing. Justin couldn’t imagine having to grow-up in a house with someone like that. Poor Arianna. She’d been dealt a bum rap her whole life. How could someone like that even come to God?

Arianna didn’t say anything else, but gave Justin a look. He tried to convey the need for a private talk but didn’t know if she understood it.

She turned to her mother. “Mom, could you and Daddy go down and get me something to eat and drink? The doctor said earlier I was on a full diet but I wasn’t hungry at lunch so I didn’t eat what they brought.”

“Of course Dear. What would you like?”

“Oh I don’t know. Meatloaf sounds good.” She turned t o Justin. “What do you want?”

“I’m fine…”

“Nonsense. Mom will buy for you, too.”

“Just a salad then.”

Her father turned and snorted in derision. “A salad? It figures. No wonder you’re no bigger than a twig.” His hands came to rest on his generous gut and Arianna and Justin both laughed.

Arianna’s mother looked over at her husband. “Just leave the boy alone. He hasn’t done anything to you and he’s trying to help our daughter. My goodness, I don’t know what’s hot into you.”

Her Dad grabbed her mom’s arm. “Fine, let’s go.” He propelled her out of the room.

Justin breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“I have an idea, but we only have a few minutes to execute it.”

She laid her hands on top of his. “Tell me.”

“My mom has a cabin up near Shadow Lake. We can go there. I won’t take you to my apartment because your dad would just find us.” He looked at Arianna, used his fingers to gently nudge her face to look into his. “But there’s a catch.”

Her eyes grew wide. Full of curiosity. “What?”

He dropped the bomb, not giving himself time to back out. “We have to get married.”

She screeched, “Married?”

The hurt that coursed through him was a surprise. Why did it hurt so much? It would be a marriage of convenience, not love. “It wouldn’t have to be permanent, but I am a Christian and I don’t feel it would be right to take you away to a cabin on the lake without being married.”

She seemed to be thinking it over. Slowly, she began to nod. “Yes, I think you’re right. That will work. Yes, I will marry you.”

And just like that, Justin got engaged.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A day late, but better than never...

                                            Don't forget to check out:                           
                              http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/

                                            Here is some more of God's Beauty!!


 

 


 
 
~ Chapter Nine ~


He moved down the alley quiet as he could, searching for a place to hide, or get away. The two bumbling cops were hot on his trail. He was surprised at their persistence.

Up ahead there was a tall wooden gate blocking the end of his path. His heart raced, not used to the physical activity. What to do… Run. The word popped into his mind, but he couldn’t comply. There was nowhere to go. Inside his head, he imagined he heard laughter. The voices were ecstatic with his plight. He whispered, “Shut-up,” before twisting to the left and throwing himself in an open window.

An old lady sat in an armchair talking on the phone. He heard her scream, “Maria, a man just came through my window,” but kept running, looking for a door or another window. He grunted in triumph as he spotted a door. He skidded to a halt long enough to twist the knob and pull it open. Sticking his head out, he looked both ways. All clear. He jumped outside and broke into a fast run. After a few minutes he was sure he’d lost the idiot cops. He slowed to a stop, bent over and held his side. “This doesn’t change things.”

“Oh but it does, Harry.”

“How is that, Adam?”

“Because the Casanova must die now. You saw him. He came in and stole her away. We can’t have that.”

“But we don’t kill people, Adam.”

“We don’t? Apparently you don’t remember Markstown.”

“Shut-up! We agreed never to talk about that. It was an accident.” Harry’s head swiveled this way and that as he spoke. Dizziness engulfed him. He took a few deep breaths. “You’re not going to entice me with that temptation anymore. She wouldn’t quit screaming. There was nothing else I could do but cover her mouth. It isn’t my fault she quit breathing.”

“Harry, Harry. Is that what you tell yourself? Is that how you sleep at night?”

Harry swallowed. “Yes.”

“You’re lying to yourself. I felt the way you watched as she realized she was going to die. It excited you. You were practically drooling.”

“Liar!!” Harry turned away and fell to the ground. His side hurt and he was having trouble breathing.

But Adam was still there. Inside his head. “Stop being a wimp. You know you liked it. We should go home and take care of that new girl. If we’re going to bring Arianna back you know she’ll have to go. You’ve spoiled the girl.”

“I don’t want to…kill her.”

“Why not? Nobody’ll miss her anyway. She’s a whiner. And loud.”

Harry sat up, grabbed his head and rocked back and forth. “Stop it Adam. I mean it. I banish you to silence.”

Adam laughed uproariously. “You’re funny, kid.”

“Goodbye Adam.”

Harry felt Adam’s sudden anger. “No! You can’t banish me. I AM you.”

Harry shrugged his shoulders, gave his head a quick twist and stood up. “I just did.”

He straightened his clothes, brushed off his pants and looked around to see if he’d garnered any attention. “Good. Not a soul in sight.” He rushed toward home.

*

Justin stood up, still cradling Arianna in his arms. “He’s gone now. I’m going to take you back to your room.”

Arianna’s father barked, “No you’re not. Put her down right now.”

Arianna tightened her arms around his neck.

Justin adjusted her slight frame in his arms. “Why not?”

“I think I’ve made myself clear about that. We don’t need you here.”

Arianna surprised him by pulling her head from his chest where it rested. She screamed, “Stop it Daddy! It’s enough. I want him here and if you don’t, you can leave.”

Her father stopped his advance of the two and just stared at her. “But Peanut, we don’t need him. You’re not in a good emotional state. Your character judgment is obviously lacking.”

Justin felt his anger rise to the surface and fought to keep it under control, but it was hard. Why did the guy have such a problem with him, anyway? He’d saved his daughter. More than once now. He waited until father and daughter stopped arguing to slide in with an apology. “I’m sorry, sir. I mean you no disrespect, but Arianna is an adult.”

As her father pulled out his cell phone he said, “Arianna, don’t speak to me that way. I’m your father.”

“I know that, and I do respect you, but my mind’s made up. Justin stays. If you say anything else about him, it’ll be you who goes.”

The words must’ve tired her because she laid her head back against his chest and said no more. Her father looked at him with such hate Justin shrank away.

Cell phone half way to his face he said, “This is not over.” He shoved the phone back in his pocket and walked away.

Arianna’s mother hadn’t said anything up to that point, but as she passed she whispered, “I’m glad my daughter has someone she can trust.”

Justin was surprised but tried not to show it. The fact she’d whispered told him she didn’t want her husband to know she approved. Oh well. Some people were weak that way. He replied, “Thanks,” In a whisper of his own.

Arianna reached up and pulled her in for a hug with surprisingly strong arms considering how weak she’d seemed only moments ago. “Thanks Mom.”

A policeman followed them into the room. He’d been watching from a few steps away. Justin thought it was nice he’d given them a few moments of privacy.

As soon as everyone entered the room the cop shut the door and asked, “Can anyone tell me what happened?”

“I’m not sure. When I got here the two cops from earlier were fighting with a man on the floor. I couldn’t see Arianna so I searched all over. I found her on the floor beside the bed and I grabbed her. I didn’t know what to do so I ran out the door looking for a place to hide. I had just came even with the nurses’ station.” He laid Arianna in the bed and continued, “When the nurse saw me and knocked us to the floor. I mean, I don’t blame her. She didn’t know I was the good guy. Anyway, we were on the floor behind her desk when the bad guy got loose and came out the door looking for Arianna.”

The nurse broke in, “Then the guy got loose from the policeman somehow and came out into the hall screaming for Arianna. We were terrified, but afraid to move in case he saw us.”

Justin shook his head. “Yeah, and then the two cops ran out, chasing him. He tripped them up and took off down the hallway. That’s all I saw.”

The policeman nodded at Justin then looked at the nurse. “Is that how you saw it?”

She shook her head. “Yep.”

The policeman wrote something on the pad of paper in his hand and Justin took the moment to stretch his neck. His eye caught movement so his glance trained on it. Arianna’s father had his hand in his suit pocket and his fingers were moving. Was he texting someone? If so, why was he doing it in his pocket? At that moment, cold green eyes full of hate captured his.

What was going on? Why did the man hate him so much? He’d saved his daughter not once, but twice. The suspicion he’d been trying to put at the back of his mind went full-blown. He’d just become a suspect in Justin’s mind. But a suspect of what? The idea that popped into his mind was almost as scary as the look the man had just given him.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No blog today...

I will post the next chapter tomorrow because I have no internet at home. Hopefully it will be fixed today. Have a blessed day!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time for the next chapter...

                                         

            Don't forget to visit: http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/


                                                More of God's beauty...



 







~ Chapter Eight ~


Arianna woke, heart pounding. The room was dark and she was disoriented. What time was it? What had awakened her? Instinct told her not to move, so she listened instead. A soft shuffling noise reached her ears, and then fear. Monster was in the room.

“Arianna, Arianna,” he sing-songed. “I know you’re awake, my dear.”

Her heart pounded so loud in her ears she couldn’t be sure what he said. The last day had given her false hope. She wasn’t safe, and he wasn’t gone. He never would be. Dear Lord. If you exist, please save me.

An angry voice spoke overtop her. “Arianna, stop ignoring me. Your breathing changed.”

Slowly, she opened her eyes. ‘The Monster’ was there, smiling his creepy smile. Fear immobilized her to any further movement. He grabbed her chin and jerked it toward him. “There there. You look so much better now. I was afraid you were going to die.”

She detected some emotion in his voice, but couldn’t discern what it was. How could a psychopath feel anything?

When she didn’t immediately respond, he squeezed her chin. “Aren’t you going to talk to me woman? I went through a lot just to see you.”

Fear choked her timid, “Wha..what do you want me to say?”

His reply was a whispered, “How about, I’m sorry? Or, I missed you?”

She raised her chin. “You want me to lie?”

The smile left his face. “Don’t think you can be disrespectful to me just because you’re in here. I showed you I can still get to you, didn’t I?”

Fear settled over her once more at his cold tone. She nodded. “Yes.”

“Good. I’ve come to take you home.”

She trembled from head to foot, but had to pretend she wasn’t terrified. She raised small fists and said, “I…I’m not going.”

He laughed out loud this time, his merriment causing the partial mask on his face to lift a bit. “You are so funny Sweetheart.”

A thought came to mind and she asked, “Where are the police?” Her head shifted this way and that, looking for them, but she already knew she wouldn’t see them.

He smirked. “Don’t worry, Toots. I didn’t kill them. I can’t afford a ‘cop-killer’ label. They might really care who I am then. I just put them down for a nap.”

He leaned in close and the familiar smell of peppermint assailed her. He was chewing gum. She knew what that meant. She struggled, trying to get-up, but he held her down. The more she moved and jerked, the faster his breathing.

He’s enjoying this. Despair overcame her. Tears of hopelessness slid down her cheeks. “Dear Lord,” She screamed inside her brain, “Have mercy on me.”

At that moment the door slammed open, hitting the wall so hard it shook the whole room.

A figure ran in and yelled, “Freeze!”

The Monster cackled, “Whatever. You can’t catch me moron.” He rushed the man and they began tussling on the floor.

Arianna screamed. She tried to disengage from the bedding, but was powerless to get lose. She’d been cold earlier and they’d given her extra covers that wrapped around her like a Christmas present. In desperation she yelled, “Dear Lord, please.”

Another figure raced into the room and joined the struggle on the floor. Arianna looked down and saw it was the other police officer. She pulled, managing to untangle one foot. It gave her the added strength she needed to continue fighting. The other foot pulled free and she threw the cover to the side. Her fingers clawed at the side-rails, the only thing holding her back.

A quick look toward the dog-pile on the floor told her ‘The Monster’ was winning. Of course. She heard a keening noise, not realizing it was her own voice. The rail wouldn’t budge so she decided to do the only thing she could: Go over the side. And she did.

The fall was further than she imagined and her bony legs cracked on the cold hospital room floor with a thud. She cried out then stifled it. His attention was on the heavier cop, who had him in a stranglehold.

If only Justin were here. Tears of exhaustion and pity slid down her cheeks and she stopped struggling. There was no use. He would win. Her life was over. It was nothing. He would take her back to the prison that was her miserable life and she would live an awful existence until God had mercy on her and ended it all, or allowed her to.

*

Justin came through the door, flipped the light, and took in the incredible scene in a seconds’ glance.

Both policemen were on the floor; the skinny one struggling to sit-up and the heavier one holding a man in a head-lock.

His eyes jerked to the bed. Where was Arianna? Heart pounding, he scanned the room in a split-second. His gaze stopped on the other side of the bed where her tiny figure lay on the floor in a heap. He moved toward her. As he came closer he saw tears glistening on spiky red lashes. Anger so fierce rose within him he could scarcely breathe. This was getting ridiculous. He was beside her in an instant, her frail body in his arms. “Who is that? What’s going on?”

The hate in her voice caused his head to jerk back. “It’s him.”

He turned toward the cops on the floor. The man struggled and slammed his head back catching the heavier cop square in the face. Blood spurted. Justin gasped as he recognized the man from earlier. It was the creeper from the gas station. Sickness settled in his gut. The reality of the situation hit him. This wasn’t a game, or a dream. This whole horrible ordeal was real. And he’d become a part of it the minute he’d stumbled onto Arianna’s form on the jogging trail.

The skinny cop managed to stand up, but ‘The Monster’ tripped him with a quick, half-sitting roundhouse kick to the throat.

Justin stood there, Arianna in his arms. What should he do? Dear Lord, what do I do?”

Run.

The word whispered through his mind and he wasn’t sure he hadn’t just imagined it, but he moved on it. He ran.

Out in the hall there was bustling activity as several armed security guards raced toward the hospital room. They spread out, going around Justin and Arianna, into the room behind.

A nurse rushed to stand in front of him, her arms up. “Sir! Sir! Stop! Where do you think you’re taking her?”

He tried to go around, but she side-stepped. “I’m her friend. I’m getting her away.”

The nurse tackled him and they all landed in the floor behind the nurse’s station. There was about a foot of empty space between the floor and the bottom of the wall that surrounded the station and Justin bent over to peer underneath.

Somehow Arianna’s captor managed to get away from the police and the guards and was in the hall searching for her. “Arianna!” He screamed.

Beside him, she stiffened, gasping in terror. Justin laid a hand across her mouth to stifle her whimpers of fear. He whispered, “It’s okay. Stay quiet.”

She shook her head, clumps of red hair grazing his bare forearm.

The nurse looked from one to the other in silence then whispered, “Who is he?”

Justin rushed to answer, “It’s her attacker, Ma’am. I was trying to tell you, but there wasn’t time.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay.” He gestured with his arms, Arianna still firmly ensconced. “This worked out for the best, anyway. He has no clue we’re back here.

At that moment the two cops raced out Arianna’s door and the captor ran. They chased him down the hall, but Justin had a feeling they wouldn’t catch him. He looked down at Arianna. “Are you okay? Where are your parents?”

“I’m okay. They went to eat, and why are you here?” She rested her head against his chest and closed her eyes.

His heart tripped. Was this love or just a crush? How could he feel like this after only knowing her for a few hours? The question preyed on his mind but he knew there was little chance he could answer it. All he knew was he felt it.

He took the moment to thank God for keeping them all safe. Yeah, it had been a crazy few hours that was for sure.

“I’m here because I wanted to see you. I was going to call but decided to surprise you, and I’m glad I did.”

She snuggled into his chest. “So am I. I’m really tired, so I’m going to sleep now.”

Her arms came around his neck and she sighed. “Thank you Justin.”

He pulled his feet out in front of him and rested his back against the desk behind him, pulling her as close as he could manage without hurting her. “You’re welcome Arianna. Thank God I decided to come instead of call.”

Her voice was weak and quiet, but Justin caught her words. “Oh I do. He is making sure you keep me safe. I need to thank Him instead of question Him every step of the way.”

He kissed the top of her head. “Yes you do.”

Justin met the eyes of the nurse over Arianna’s head. She said, “It really is a good thing you came or she might be gone.”

He shrugged one shoulder, careful not to dislodge Arianna as she rested against his chest. “Arianna is right. God is keeping her safe. I intended to call her but decided at the last minute to see her instead. I felt compelled.”

The heavyset nurse raised dark brown eyes toward the ceiling. “Yes, He do work like that. That’s for sure.”

Justin nodded. He was glad the evil man was gone even though he knew it wasn’t for good. ‘The Monster’ would have to be behind bars before he would ever leave Arianna alone. He determined he was going to help make sure that happened; with God as his pilot. Thank you God for saving her tonight.

Arianna’s father appeared above them and demanded, “What in the Sam Hill is going on here?”

The nurse gave Justin a look of exasperation, turned toward the man and said, “Nothing we can’t handle sir. Nothing we can’t handle.”