A/N: Hello to all my fellow aspiring writers, I have taken a leap of faith and decided to ask you for your opinion on my original story. I appreciate constructive criticism and hope that you enjoy. (All material under "Aspire2write" is under copywrite protection. Please note that some future chapters may be subject to a rating change, there will be an authors note with a warning on those chapters.)

Coincidence is a strange thing. We label the connection between various events as coincidence but then wonder if there is such a thing. There has to be. For what other connection could there be? Even while contemplating its existence, coincidence is usually the most sane and safest bet. As strange as it is, it remains the most desirable explanation because coincidence by itself has no explanation and requires none to be given.

How somber January became after ringing in with such excitement and promise. The end just faded away in a cold silence. Shrouded in a chilled mist, it simply left without pomp or mourning, turning time over to a smug February. So passed the month of January. February arrived, wrapped around and cradling Valentine's Day. That was, like always, just another empty promise like Mother's Day and Father's Day. Oh, and never forget it's resemblence to Christmas, with the boxes of donated toys and clothes wrapped in paper and bows with nametags that read 'girl'. It only brought quickly picked sales items people put in collection bins so they could forgive themselves for their self-directed extravagance. Valentine's Day... just like Santa, there was no Valentine. "It's just the weather. You got through it all. It's nothing new. March is here... and it brought your birthday." She chuckled sarcastically while plodding through runoff from rain and the piles of gray, melting snow. "Spring's lack of enthusiasm for showing up is getting everybody down. Quit with the 'I'm a poor orphan' trip. Just get home and warm up. The weather will change." Squinting into the light of her cellphone, she checked the time. 12:12 AM, no calls, no messages and no texts. "You'll be home by 12:20, yeah me." The sarcasm returned as she slipped the empty phone back into her purse then allowed her eyes to readjust to the street lamp's glow dimming as it was absorbed by the shadows and dirty snow. Living here on the edge of the business district seemed desirable when she was looking to rent. With this edge having no business, though, it was dark and lonely. Window after window of commercial space, office space and square footage signs let you know you were alone. "Up and coming." That's what the realtor had said. At least she didn't have to worry about crime. There were no criminals here because there was no one here to rob or buy their drugs. Only two of the buildings had been redesigned for apartments. Her building had only the single loft apartment and the other provided no big money penthouse.

That's why she was so startled by the shadows and voices echoing from the alley. It sounded like scuffling. It sounded like trouble. She hurried by to avoid any interaction in the squabble yet couldn't help but look to see the owners of the voices. Immediately, she knew this had been a mistake. Even though the shadow was tall and slender it looked elderly. It was being attacked by the others with only a cane to defend itself. While having two thoughts in her head, "What are they doing here?" and "What am I going to do?" she found herself running toward one of the shadows. With surprising speed she clutched his shoulders from behind then spun him away from the older shadow. He fell, sliding across the cold, wet pavement. Reaching under the other's arms then raising her hands behind his neck she knew she had him in a hold. What it was called, she didn't know but she held on. Fear began to take her over as she felt his strength. He leaned forward trying to force her over his head then onto her back but she maintained the hold. The other shadowy threat was up, returning to the fray but she was fortunate to still be on the back of this second one. With all her strength she kicked backward, catching the returning foe in the chin. She was straight again as her captive attempted to remove her by crushing her against the wall of the building. Planting her feet firmly, she was able to turn so they would both hit the wall sideways. The force left her breathless yet she strengthened her grip then wrapped one ankle in front of his to throw him to the ground. It worked but her knee also hit the pavement hard. Anger began to swell within her pushing out the fear. She was not the only one angry, though. Her foe stiffened as he reached for her wrists.

He was pulling her arms down in an attempt to take away what control she had over him. Wrapping both legs low around his then leaning sideways into him with what leverage she could gain gave her an advantage. Her temple hit his head as it hit the ground yet she pulled up and away from his reach. Getting to her feet, she found she was face to face with the other shadow. She felt somehow grateful that she could not see his face. There was a feeling she was confronted by something un-natural. The tall, elderly shadow approached behind him then swung its cane, knocking this shadow to the side. It swung again, as she ducked beneath the blow, catching the second shadow behind her full on, then the old shadow took her hand. "Run!" He led her with surprising quickness to the entrance of her building. She unlocked the door then the two of them entered. Placing her palms upon the wall she bent forward to breath. The hallway spun as she swore she heard thunder roll across the sky outside. The tall stranger followed her up the stairs as a flash of lightning crackled then boomed just outside the door behind them. "I think we are safe." He held her arm gently as they made their way up the remaining flights to her apartment. She had never contemplated the need for an elevator until now. They entered the apartment without words as thunder sailed by again. It added to her dizziness.

After leading the tall stranger to the couch she turned then fell into the chair dropping her head into her hands. She closed her eyes for a moment to clear away the confusion then asked herself, "What just happened?" Looking up at the old shadow man in the light revealed quite a surprise. His shadow had deceived her.