Protecting His Forever(7)

By: LeAnn Ashers

Chapter Three

One Month Later

Waking up to the sound of knocking at the front door, I panic and fall down onto the floor clasping my pounding heart. My eyes shoot to the clock on the nightstand 10:00 AM. Letting out a deep breath I climb to my feet. My first thought when I hear the knocking is that the man has found me. Come on, Sydney, if it was him, he sure as heck wouldn’t knock on the door and he is in jail. Before I reach the front door, the loud banging begins again.

Peeking out the peep hole, I see just the top of red hair. Weird, who could this be? Taser at the ready, I open the door. Something hard collides with my body and makes me a take a couple steps back.

Pushing the person off of me, I look to see who it is.

Gasping, I squeak, “Brae?”

“In the flesh,” she answers guiltily.

“Where the hell have you been?” I can’t contain my temper. Brae was my best friend. Since the first day of college we had been inseparable. We went to a party after finals our senior year because we wanted to celebrate. I was busy dodging my stalker. Stalker may have been too strong of a word, but it seemed like he was always there every time I went somewhere outside of my apartment. Braelyn was talking to a guy, and when I left the room I never saw her again. I searched for her everywhere. I haven’t seen her since.

“I, uhh. It’s a long story.” Tears rush to her eyes. The Braelyn I know is tough and doesn’t cry. Something horrible has happened. Braelyn had a horrible life growing up at the hands of her stepfather. He was abusive and her mom sat there and watched, but that only seemed to make her stronger. This girl standing in front of me with her eyes overflowing with tears has been broken by something much worse.

“We have plenty of time. Let’s get you fed.” I lead her into the kitchen, her small, fragile hand in mine. Her wrist is really small, smaller than what would be considered normal.

I watch as she lifts her small frame onto the stool, her hands shaking as she pushes her hair out of her face. Her cheeks are sunken in, her lips chapped, stains are covering her clothes and her hair needs a good wash. Bones are sticking out of her chest. She is starving.

Turning around, I don’t want her to see my tears. Braelyn doesn’t deserve this shitty hand that has been dealt to her. Taking a glass out of the cabinet, I fill it to the top with water and hand her a banana.

From the corner of my eye, I watch as she shakily peels the banana back and eats half of it with one bite. Tears fall down my face that I don’t try to hide. Braelyn, what has happened to you?

Fixing her two sandwiches, I place the plate in front of her. She takes one sandwich off the plate and crams it in. If she doesn’t slow down, she will get sick. “Slowly,” I tell her softly, my hand resting on her arm.

She nods and slowly takes a bite. My heart is breaking for this girl. She finishes the first one and then before she can get to the second she jumps up and runs to the bathroom. Her body is reacting to not having food for a long time.

I follow behind her. Taking a washcloth out of the linen closet, I wet it and hand it to her. Her eyes search my face. Reluctantly, she takes the cloth from me to clean herself up.

“I was starving, Sydney,” she says with a hitch in her voice.

“I know, Braelyn,” I confirm and hand her an unopened tooth brush from under the sink. “I will be in the kitchen. I think we need to talk.”

She nods her head, and I rub her back soothingly. Walking to the living room, I sit down on the couch.

She comes in a few minutes later and stops at the end of the couch, twisting the bottom of her shirt nervously.

“Come sit down, Braelyn.” I pat the seat beside me.

She walks over and sits down, tucking her feet under her. Before I can say anything, she starts to talk, “Remember the party we went to at the end of finals?” Nodding my head, she continues, “I was hanging with this guy. He was sweet—too sweet. He offered to get me a drink, and I immediately agreed. Never once did I think that he could have put something in it. Thirty minutes or so later, I was getting dizzy, and my vision was blurred. I ran off into the woods.

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