It was past midnight and Megan still wasn’t able to sleep. The events that happened in the past thirty-six hours kept coming back to her, filling her with fear and trepidation. Who could have reason to harm her, much more, kill her? She knew of no one who would do that to her.
All her life, she had been sheltered by her grandparents. She only had a handful of friends. Her contact with other people had been minimal. Besides, her grandparents had forged harmonious relationships with almost everybody, rich or poor, through their membership organizations and charitable causes. The threat to her life was as baffling to her as the handsome, mysterious man of whom she knew nothing about, except that now she was sleeping on his bed, in his house, wearing the clothes he picked.
Startled, she heard shuffling feet from outside. A few minutes after, she heard the door knob being turned. Megan slowly got up from the bed and hid behind the door, her heart beating fast, thinking dark thoughts.
A shadow of a man noiselessly opened the door.
With all her strength, Megan hit the man’s back over and over again with the pair of rubber shoes she had hastily picked up from the floor.
“Awww! Stop! Stop it! It’s me!”
Abruptly, she stopped, recognizing Richard’s low whispering voice, even though she couldn’t see his face in the darkness of the room.
“You! Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. . . I heard noise outside and. . .”
He cut her short of her words, his voice still low, seeming to be in a hurry. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not even painful. Good thing you’re as thin as a bamboo.”
Enraged, Megan hissed at him, “You really are obnoxious! Here I am, apologizing to you, but you insult me?”
“Okay, okay, apology accepted. Keep your voice down. Put on your shoes, hurry!”
“Why are you ordering me to put on my shoes? And, wait a minute. . . why are you here? You said last night only Valerie and I will sleep in this resthouse tonight!” She whispered angrily back.
Richard let out an exasperated sigh as he growled at her, “I only said that so you’d stop thinking about me raping you and other indecent thoughts. This is my house! Where do you think I sleep?”
Megan couldn’t think of anything to say in reply.
“What? Cat got your tongue? Will you please, put on your shoes? We have to leave here, now!” Richard barked at her.
“Leave? I can’t leave here. My friend, Melanie, will arrive to take me home today, this afternoon, and she’ll bring the police. I called her up, didn’t I?”
“And I told you that was a bad idea. Why do you think there are masked men here tonight?”
She didn’t get a chance to reply to that as Richard suddenly gathered her in his arms and pushed her body hard against the wall. Putting his forefinger on his mouth, he signalled her to be quiet, his back to the door.
Stealthily, two shadows entered the room, each holding a gun. Richard’s hand quickly covered her mouth to stifle her scream. But one of the men heard their movement. He flung open the door as Richard and Megan scrambled out of the way to avoid being hit by it.
One of the masked men pointed his gun at Megan. Without thinking, Megan hurled her shoe, which she was holding, at the gunman. It hit his face, causing him to cry out in pain. Richard took the opportunity and lunged himself at him, punching him hard in the jaw. The man fell down, unconscious.
But the second masked man, who was right behind him, kicked Richard in the back. He dropped to the floor, face down. The second gunman then pointed his gun on Megan’s forehead. For the third time in her life, she found herself looking at the barrel of death.
Suddenly she heard a loud thud and the man dropped to the floor, blood oozing from the back of his head. A stern-faced Valerie appeared behind him, a steel pipe in her hand which she used to hit him. She looked ominous, dressed in sleek black leather jacket and pants.
Megan couldn’t believe what she just witnessed. Sweet, cheerful Valerie? But as if nothing uneventful happened, her charming smile showed up again as she turned to Megan and asked, “You okay, Megan?”
Silently, Megan nodded, her head throbbing, a hundred questions going through her mind. What have I gotten myself into? Who are these people?
“We have to leave, now.” Richard took her by the arm and told her to put on her shoes. But she was trembling with fear. She couldn’t even move. When he saw this, Richard muttered unintelligibly. He dropped down to his knees to steadily hold her ankle and quickly put the shoe on her foot himself, one after the other. Then he stood up, tipped her chin up until her big, bright, frightened eyes met his brooding gaze. And in a surprisingly gentle voice, he murmured, “I will protect you, Megan. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
Strangely, his words gave her comfort. With a sigh, she buried her face to his chest. Richard instinctively put his arms around her and held her tight, his right hand cupping her head.