I was almost all the way to my car when it happened. Suddenly someone grabbed me from behind, his hand covering my mouth. I tried to struggle, but he was too strong.
The next thing I knew, I was free. Someone else had pulled him off me and now held a gun in my attacker's face. "I wasn't gonna do anything to her," the man who'd attacked me whined.
"No, you're not," my rescuer said fiercely. In the dark I couldn't make out his features, but I could see that he wore a security guard's uniform. "Are you all right?" he asked me. He had a slight Russian accent, and my heart began to beat faster as I realized that his voice sounded familiar.
"I...I think so," I stammered. "He just scared me real bad, that's all."
"Tracy?" His voice was full of wonder.
"Do I know you?" I asked.
"Don't you remember?" He laughed. "It's me, Mischa!"
Mischa. I'd said good-bye to him ten years ago. I'd met him when he'd ended up practically on my back doorstep quite by accident. He'd befriended my brother Adam and his friends, and I'd taken care of his injured arm, but then he'd had to return to his home in Russia. At the time, I'd thought I'd never see him again.
"But how...how did you get back here?" I stammered.
"It's a long story. I'll tell you another time. Are you sure you're all right?"
"I'm positive," I told him. "I need to get home to my kids."
"Kids?" He looked disappointed.
"I'm a single Mom," I explained.
"Oh." He looked relieved. "Well, take care, and I'm sure I'll see you again soon." He gave me that enchanting smile I remembered so well and returned to his duties, and I drove home, still shaken a bit from what had almost happened to me but thrilled to have seen Mischa again.
Upon returning home, I paid the babysitter, Penny, and went to check on Sage and Meadow before getting ready for bed myself. Four-year-old Sage lay sound asleep underneath his Power Rangers quilt, clutching his pillow tightly, and fourteen-month-old Meadow lay curled in her crib with her thumb in her mouth. I kissed them both lightly on the cheek before going to my own bedroom.
As I drifted off to sleep, memories of my first encounter with Mischa returned to me. In his sailor suit, he looked so adorable, and with his longish dark blond hair swept back, his bright blue eyes, I'd fallen for him right away. In the brief amount of time we'd had together, we hadn't been able to get to know one another very well, but I'd become quite fond of him, and felt sad when he'd had to say good-bye. I'd watched until I couldn't see him anymore, hoping deep inside that I'd see him again someday.
Now I couldn't wait to find out what had brought him back to the United States.