Just One Touch(3)

By: Maya Banks

He dropped his coffee and bagels, quickly drew his firearm and then stepped between two cars before slowly advancing around the front, keeping low as he closed the distance between him and his vehicle.

He continued to do figure eights around the remaining cars until he had just one left to go. He crept around the back, wanting to come up behind whoever was trying to jack his fucking SUV, trapping the punk between the open door and a loaded pistol.

Cautiously he rose just enough to get a good sight line to the perpetrator and frowned when he saw a slight figure in a hoody with several holes in it. The jeans weren’t in any better shape and the hood of the top was covering the guy’s head. Judging by the size, it looked to be a teenager looking for a joyride.

Whoever it was sucked at stealing a vehicle. The guy wasn’t even checking his six to make sure the owner—or anyone else—was coming up on him. When he started to slide behind the wheel, Isaac knew he had to act now and hope to hell the dude wasn’t packing firepower.

“Hold it right there,” Isaac said, coming into view, his gun trained at the back of the kid.

The body in front of Isaac went rigid and then the teenager slowly turned around to face Isaac. All the wind rushed from Isaac’s lungs in one forceful exhale when he got his first good look at the “kid” trying to steal his ride.

A young woman stared back at him with huge, frightened eyes. She’d gone unnaturally pale, which made the blood and swelling around her mouth and nose even more evident. Even dressed as she was, in the condition she was in, the only thing that came to his mind was that he had to be staring back at an angel.

Strands of pale blond hair stuck out from the hood of her top, framing marred but otherwise porcelain skin. The blood looked incongruous with the image she projected. As his gaze drifted down her poor attire, he noticed she wasn’t even wearing any damn shoes. It wasn’t freezing by any means, but it was too cold to be running around dressed as she was and barefooted.

“Please, don’t hurt me,” she whispered, her lips trembling.

Her entire body shook, her hands held upward in a gesture of surrender. His earlier anger over having his vehicle stolen fled and was replaced by a strong sense of protectiveness—and rage at anyone who would hurt such a tiny, innocent-looking woman.

“What’s your name?” he asked gently as he lowered his gun before sliding it back into its holster.

Terror flared in her crystal-clear blue eyes. He’d never seen such an unusual shade of blue in someone’s eyes before. That, paired with the blond silky hair and her delicate-looking, fair skin, further cemented the image of an angel in his mind.

“I-I c-can’t tell y-you that,” she stammered.

His face softened. “Are you in some kind of trouble? I can help you. My job involves helping people who are in trouble.”

She shook her head emphatically. “Please just let me go. I’m so sorry about . . .” She broke off and her hand fluttered weakly toward his vehicle. “I just didn’t know what else to do.”

“Honey, I don’t think you’ve taken a good look at yourself,” he said gently. “You’re bruised and bloodied up pretty bad and you’re not dressed for the weather. You don’t even have shoes on.”

“I need to go,” she whispered. “I have to go.”

Isaac took a step forward, sensing her urgency and her impending flight. He didn’t know why it was so important to him not to let her just leave, but hell, could he let anyone just walk away after seeing the condition this mystery woman was in?

She shrank back, drawing into herself, a protective measure that was likely instinctual and not at all conscious. He could feel his expression blacken at the thought of why she might assume she had so much to fear from a complete stranger. But then again, he could see her point. They hadn’t exactly met on the best of terms. Certainly not when he’d been pointing a gun at her.

“Let me buy you something to eat. I just came from the coffee shop in the strip mall, but when I saw my door open, I ditched my coffee and bagels. I think you could use a little warming up too.”

He could see the yearning in her eyes at his mention of food and hot coffee and his gaze automatically swept over her slight figure, noting her thinness. There were hollows under her eyes that suggested lack of sleep as well as lack of having anything to eat.