Please, just let me escape.
My fear kept my legs moving, but the lack of light caused my leg to come down on something that sent excruciating pain shooting through my foot.
“Ouch!” I cried out, trying not to let my injury stop me.
My steps faltered as the agony gave way to hopelessness. I knew the slowdown was going to put me at risk.
I tried to keep moving, but I would have fallen if a powerful body hadn’t slammed into my back, and supporting arms hadn’t wrapped around me.
“Noooo!” I howled, knowing my escape had been brief and the price would probably be pretty damn high.
I couldn’t see him since he was behind me, but I knew that my buyer had successfully hunted down his expensive purchase.
Whatever advantages I’d had were lost.
As I struggled to get out of his strong hold, I could hear his harsh breath on the side of my neck. His grip wasn’t cruel, but he made it clear that he was hanging onto what was now his property.
“Just let me go,” I cried out desperately.
I gave in to the despair that had been hanging over me for weeks like a dark cloud, the pain of the injury to my foot exacerbating the feeling of helplessness that I’d come to hate.
His voice was harsh as he rasped, “I’m not here to hurt you, woman. I’m here to help. Dani sent me.”
My panicked brain took a moment to acknowledge what he said. My new friend had sent me help? She’d really come through?
“Who are you?” I asked, my throat balking at the usage of my voice after my marathon sprint.
His hold on me relaxed as he answered gruffly, “My name is Jett. I’m Dani’s brother. She sent me here to rescue you. I’m sorry you had to be afraid during the auction. It seemed easier to buy your freedom than to take on people who might hurt you, and I’m solo on this gig.”
Freedom? I hardly knew what that meant anymore, but I wanted it more than I’d ever wanted anything. I’d never truly been free.
I opened my mouth, but a sob was ready to escape, so I immediately shut it down.
I’m not going to cry. I refuse to cry.
Maybe Jett was the good guy, but I was horribly afraid that if I started to cry, I’d never stop.
Relief flowed over me, and the only thing that kept me standing was Jett’s hold on me as he turned me around and surprisingly wrapped his arms around me.
I felt more secure than I ever had in my twenty-two years of existence on Earth.
I wasn’t sure exactly why, but I was pretty certain it had something to do with the strength and power that he seemed to exude from every pore in his body.
He didn’t speak as I wrapped my arms around his neck and panted against his shoulder. His hands stroked over my hair and down my back, his touch comforting.
“It’s over, Ruby. I promise you, it’s over.” Jett’s voice was husky and deep as he made a vow with so much certainty that it made me feel even safer, more secure.
And feeling protected wasn’t something I’d ever experienced in my past.
I was calmer as I finally answered, “But now I’m indebted to you,” I pointed out in a tremulous voice. “You just shelled out a fortune.”
Jett had paid more money for me than I could even process in my mind. I felt rich when I had enough money to buy a hamburger from the dollar menu, so figures like he’d just given to gain my freedom were incomprehensible to me.
“Don’t worry about the money,” he rasped. “Let’s just get you somewhere safe.”
He wrapped his arm around my waist, but I still winced as I tried to put more weight on my foot. “I have to go slow,” I said as all the breath whooshed out of my lungs from the pain of trying to walk.
“What happened?” he asked brusquely as he stooped down to try to look at my injury.
“I think I stepped on something,” I answered.
A small beam of light illuminated my lower extremities and I heard Jett curse. “Fuck! You’re bleeding all over the sidewalk. I can feel the blood.”
He had his cell phone in his hand, and he used the light to look back at the large pieces of glass behind us. “You didn’t just step on something,” he said. “It looks like a damn massacre. You ran through shards of glass.”