'Well, that wasn't very exciting,' thought 17 year old Alicia as she walked out of the movie theatre. She had been expecting a little more action from the movie she had just seen. Of course, she had been stood up not only by her boyfriend, but also by her friends as well. She was torn by that thought, but she survived. She had actually been feeling things going down hill for a while now, but she never knew how close to the end they really were. But she supposed she deserved it, she had been something of a jerk lately. But they all insisted that they loved her and were her friends forever.

'What happened to all of us?' she sighed mentally and resumed walking in a preoccupied state. She was about to cross the street when the honking of a car horn told her to stop.

'Whoa, that was close; better watch myself from now on…'

She crossed the street at an appropriate time and continued to walk towards her home. Too bad she never really thought of it that way; her family was broken and in pieces. Always were, always will be it seemed. Her dad was an abusive alcoholic and her mother was a slut. No way out of that, everyone knew it. She dreaded going home right now, knowing what was going to be there; her father, drunk and in the mood to release some anger; her mother gone, not coming back until morning. How surprising. The thoughts of the awaiting pain caused her to shiver and she pulled her jacket more closely around her as if she were trying to protect herself from the thoughts. She dejectedly continued on her way to her house when she came upon a park where she often found herself when she was down. Her favorite area was the swing set and she could be located sitting on the swing, staring of into space or up at the stars, pushing herself gently with her foot. What better way, she thought, to avoid going home just a little longer than by sitting on the swing?

She crossed the short distance quietly and lowered herself into the swing she claimed. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, enjoying the light breeze that passed through the open area of the park. She began to push herself lightly with her foot, her eyes still closed; taking pleasure in the sensation of the simple back and forth motion. Her soft brown, shoulder length hair moved with the breeze and her swinging and she began to hum quietly to herself. Her tennis shoes scraped against the gravel ground noiselessly while she sat there swinging, completely oblivious to the world. At least, that is what she appeared to be. This was far from the truth, for she knew many things could happen to a young woman who was all alone in a park and so she kept most of herself alert and ready for action. The man across the street, who was watching her, did not miss this and wondered how much of a fighter she truly was. He smiled minutely as he observed her light jacket, well fitting, torn jeans, and her simple shoes. His smile turned into a smirk and small chuckle when he thought about how easy it would be to kill her, just a tiny flick of his wrist around her neck. Her struggling would be useless and that thought not only made him laugh at the irony of it, but also sadly because he was not the only predator out at night. He turned his back and headed down the alley he was standing in front of after shortly contemplating all the possibilities of the evening that were unfolding before him. He chose the safest and perhaps the wisest option and went on his way.

The tiny girl who swung on the swing under the starlight was the only intrusion to the quiet and peaceful night. No sound besides the scrape of her foot could be heard. There was an occasional passing car, but the road was far away enough and the speed limit was slow enough to make the sound barely audible. She sat there for a while, not doing more then trying to become the night itself. But though she was alert to every sound that could be heard, she did not anticipate the sounds that could not; at least, not by human ears. The shadow that snuck up on her was silent as a ghost, quick as lightening, and more frightening than anything in this world. She did not even see it as it came up and stood behind her for a minute or two. She did not feel it reach out as if to touch her, but only noticed when she felt the gentle touch run down her arm. She jumped and was startled by the sudden appearance of hands that were attached to arms above her head, holding her swing very still.

"You're beautiful," the voice attached to the hands and arms whispered in her ear and she stiffened visibly. Her only thought was to get out of there without getting hurt in any way. Her legs stilled and her breath caught in her throat. Eyes wide with fright, she slowly lifted herself off the swing and turned around, hoping that her slow movements would tell her visitor that she was not going to run.

At least, not yet.

When she had turned around fully, she was greeted by the sight of a very handsome man. His skin was almost as dark as the night itself, and he looked very dashing in his black clothes. His eyes were an incredible shade of brown, a shade she had never seen before. His smile was pleasant and his expression was open, telling her she had nothing to fear, but she knew better. Just because an expression told you one thing did not mean that the person behind it did not have another idea on his or her agenda. She had been through enough to know that something was terribly wrong. Her instincts told her to run, to get away from the extremely beautiful person standing before her; distrust the gentle expression. Remember the beautiful comment; a man who could sneak up on a girl and then call her beautiful when he did not know her was not someone to trust—ever.

"Umm… thank you," her voice broke and she cleared her throat, but her mouth had gone extremely dry and she could not do more than cause a loud sound in comparison to the silence of the night. She could not even build up a good scream; should she need it for if—or when—he attacked.

His smile grew bigger as he studied her, "You know, someone with your beauty should not be out so late alone. It's dangerous; you never know what kind of creep is wandering around looking for… prey."

As he had said this, he had begun to close the distance between them, while Alicia had backed up with every forward step the man had taken. She swallowed in hopes to help her scream build up; when he had said that last word, his expression had changed entirely—it was no longer even an attempt to be friendly, but it did look very hungry—she could practically see him drool as he studied her.

"Uh, thanks, that's great advice. I think I'll take it to heart and go home now," she stuttered as she kept walking backwards, trying to put more distance between her and the threat before her. She ran into a tree with her back and she started to sidestep it when something happened—something inexplicable.

He moved. It wasn't like he moved his hand or his foot, but his whole body moved. The only problem was he moved faster than she was able to see. He was suddenly there, 3 inches from her and slamming her into the tree she was trying to get around. Her throat was in his hand and it felt like it was trying to be compacted and crushed into the rough area size of a coin. She couldn't breath, nor could she look away from the face that had been beautiful not moments before, but now looked demented and evil. The only sound that could escape her lips was the barely perceptible whimper that had managed to find its way out of her dry throat before he had slammed his hand into it. Alicia grabbed wildly at the man's hand, hoping to move it from her throat so she could try to breath, but it wouldn't budge. She was beginning to become frantic with her need to breathe—her need to survive. She grabbed his face and clawed it as best as she could with her fingernails, running them down his cheeks after digging as deep as her strength caused her nails to go. He growled in response and only tightened his grip on her throat and Alicia knew it was the end. She could feel her face become red with the lack of oxygen and blood flow—knew that if she didn't breath soon, she would loose consciousness and possibly her life.

No matter how hard she struggled, she was not strong enough to make the man let her go. Her vision began to blacken around the edges and she feared that the last sight she would ever see would be the ugly, black face in front of her. Her grip on his face loosened and she barely heard him chuckle through the fog that was taking over her mind. She had given up hope entirely when a miracle happened—he let go.

She could tell it was not by choice though, since he scratched her throat with his nails—like his hand was dragged from her—but she could care less right now, because her body and brain was only joyful with the fact that she could breathe again. She dropped to all fours and coughed to open her throat again. Her lungs expanded blissfully and painfully, which just made her cough more. She couldn't stop coughing in fact, because her body was desperately trying to keep her conscious and remember how to breathe. She barely heard the scuffle of what could only be a fight; one she hoped was not going to end with her in danger. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she should run—get as far from there as humanly possible so that she would be out of harm's way, but her feet refused—as did her legs. She was too weak from the lack of air for an extended period of time. She sat on the ground panting and coughing when she heard something scream out inhumanly. She listened closer to the sounds over her breathing and could tell something was coming towards her. Fear made her leap to her feet and avoid the tree that had been her prison just moments before.

"Shhh, it's ok, you're ok. I'm not going to hurt you, I promise."

It was a gentle voice that addressed her, one she did not recognize. Her vision was still partially blackened but she could tell he was a different person then the one she had encountered. He was definitely a different person—he was white.

"Don't be afraid of me, I'm just here to help. See?" he held up his hands to show he was not carrying a weapon, nor would he try to hurt her. It was the sign of surrender, "Nothing. I'm not going to hurt you," he repeated for her sake.

She kept backing up, but in slower and littler steps. Her eyes were wide with fear and she was holding her throat, the same why a person holds the place on their body that is in pain, as if holding it would make the pain disappear. He wasn't moving towards her, afraid that if he did, she would run and get hurt in another way. He didn't need that right now—he had enough problems to deal with.

"Come now, let's get you home. Can you tell me where you live? I want to make sure you get there safely."

She was so scared she couldn't speak. She simply shook her head and continued to back up slowly.

"Whoa! Watch it!" he exclaimed and jumped forward to grab her before she walked backwards into the street. His sudden advancement startled Alicia and she tripped. He caught her and faced her the other way, back towards the park.

"Listen, if you insist upon backing away from me, please do it in a safe direction. I did not save your life to watch you get run over."

At this she finally seemed to snap out of her trance and her fright. She looked at the street behind the man that had saved her. She realized this with a sudden relief. He had saved her; although she was not out of danger yet, she was still out of danger from the black man.

"Thank you," she croaked. Her throat was still really dry and because it had been crushed, it was now almost impossible to speak.

He smiled at her words and lifted his hand slowly in her direction, careful to keep it a safe distance way to not scare her, "You're very welcome. Now, would you like me to escort you home?"

She shook her head, "I would feel safer if I called a cab."

He nodded, "Probably wise. Although I did save you, I could still be dangerous," his smile widened, "See? You're smart. What I can't figure out was why you were out in the park in the middle of the night all by yourself."

She just stared at him, "Sometimes people just do stupid things."

He merely nodded and handed her his cell phone, "I'll pay for the cab if you'd like to call."

She nodded and picked up his phone. After calling for a cab, she handed the phone back and the two stood in silence as they waited for the taxi to arrive to take her home. When it pulled up to the curb, she got into the back and told the driver where to go while the man who saved her life paid the cabbie in advance for his services. While he was doing this, she got a good look at him in the light that was coming from the car because her door was still open. He didn't appear to be over 20 years old. He was unbearably handsome and polite. His black hair was slightly out of place and falling into his eyes.

When he had finished paying and working out the details with the cabbie, he looked at her, his eyes full of concern, "Are you sure you're ok? Do you want me to come with you?"

She shook her head gently, "Thank you, but no. I'm fine now, honestly."

He nodded again and was about to pull his head out of the window when she stopped him with a simple question.

"Wait! What's your name?"

He looked at her in disbelief, but that quickly changed with his smile, which had reached his eyes—which were a beautiful shade of blue.


He had pulled his head out of the cab before she could say a word back in response. The cab moved on towards her house and she looked back to see Ayden watching the car move away. She watched her rescuer until she couldn't see him anymore then turned around and waited for the cab to get to the hell hole she called home.