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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?”
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.”