Jenny stood a few feet from the door.
“Open up.” The man boomed from the other side. She held the knife, blade pointed toward the door and tiptoed toward the living room. She slid her trembling hand behind the curtain to check the window latch. She didn’t want to risk seeing another shadow peering at her from the darkness. She felt the slide inside of its latch but lifted just a bit on the handle to be sure it was locked. She slid her hand back out and clipped the curtains closed with a clothes pin.
“Thanks for holding the door.” The door rattled hard. Then he yelled an explicative again and stomped down the steps.
Slow, deep breaths. Calm down now, everything is fine. “God has not given me a spirit of fear…He has not given me a spirit of fear…God has not given me a spirit of fear.” She whispered and pulled back the edge of the curtain covering her sliding glass door. The broom handle was still wedged in the track. She let the curtain fall back. The apartment plunged in to darkness other that the faint glow of street lights that slipped around her blinds.
She stepped backwards softly from the window.
“Hello beautiful.” The sultry voice behind her was less than five feet away. Her breath caught in her throat and with it her ability to scream. The last drops of adrenaline pulsed through her veins. She spun around, heart racing.
“Aren’t you going to answer me?” The voice said again. She grabbed her chest in relief, flipped open her cell phone and without a hello gushed in the phone.
“I could kill you for that stupid ring tone!”
“Why?” Logan’s voice, the one on the ring tone, was like melted chocolate.
“Because it scared the life out of me.” He started laughing. She still held her chest but the burning heat of fear was fading. She set the knife down on her end table and sat on the couch.
“What happened?” His voice suddenly commanding without a hint of laughter remaining.
“I found a flower in my car after I hung up with you then-.” She glanced again to the clothespin holding the curtain shut.
“I’ll be over in five minutes.”
“But it’ll take you at least fifteen or twenty to get all the way -.”
“I’m just around the corner from you. I didn’t like the way things ended on the phone. I got a little something for you.”
“Logan, someone followed me in to the building.”
“Was it him?”
“I don’t know but he’s really angry. He pounded up and down the hall looking for me and-.”
“I’ll call when I’m in the parking lot. Buzz me up. I dare him to say a word when I’m around.”
“Thank you.” She didn’t hide the relief in her voice.
“I’ll talk to you soon.”
She went down the short hall to her bedroom and flipped on the light. Quickly she pulled off the yoga suit she had worn home from the gym and slid on jeans and her cream colored shirt.
“I need to change that ring tone.” She said then set the phone on vibrate and clipped it to her hip. Why did Logan like this outfit on her so much. White wasn’t a slimming color, but he always insisted she looked beautiful in cream colors.
She straightened the blankets on her bed and draped her new chenille throw at an angle across it. The room was neat and tidy like Logan wanted it. He loved structure and order-
“He’ll be here any time.”
Her eyes lingered on the side of her bed that was empty night after night. She imagined Logan there beside her, protecting her when she slept. She had never met a man who knew how to make a woman feel beautiful and special like he did. Even his constant need for structure was adorable with him.
“I want to marry him.”
It was a light bulb flashing on in her brain. The stupid fears of being saddled in another bad relationship had nearly stolen the man who completed her. She spun to the oval mirror hanging above her dresser. Quickly she put on her makeup and brushed through her hair. She would tell him yes today. She beamed at her reflection. Logan, he will plop down on the couch shocked.
“No, he’s going to throw his arms around me and kiss me.”
She scurried back down the hall to the living room and fixed the pillows on her couch. Her cell vibrated against her hip.
“Come on up.” She said then flipped the phone shut and buzzed the security door release. Wonder if he has the ring with him? He probably didn’t. She had already turned him down once tonight.
“Jen it’s me.” He called gently through the door as he tapped. She pulled the door open, threw her arms around him and kissed him passionately. He pulled her close and returned the kiss. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her tight against him. She pushed against his chest for air but he grabbed the back of her head and forced her tighter.
“Lo…gan.” She gasped. He loosened his hold a little and allowed her to breath.
“What in the world was that?” She said smoothing down her shirt.
“Sorry, I was glad to see you.”
She studied him for a moment then took him by the hand and led him to the living room. “I’m glad to see you too I want-.”
He spun her around with a jerk. His eyes grabbed hers and his fingers pressed hard in to her arm.
“Logan, you’re hurting…me.” She wiggled but he squeezed harder…and smiled.
“Isn’t it okay for me to kiss you, Jen? Are you going to say no to that too?”
“Of course I want to-. Logan, you’re hurting me.” She grunted and pried at his fingers that were digging in her arm. The last time he looked at her like this was the night he had taken her purity. She had surrendered to him, but only because he’d made it clear it could have happened with or without her permission. Once she relented to him he was gentle and loving but-.
“So he left you another rose?” He released his grip with a jerk. She stepped back and rubbed her arm.
“I don’t want to talk about that…Logan I’ve been thinking about us getting married and-.”
“So have I.” He stepped toward her. His eyes narrowed. Jen took a corresponding step back. “I’ve wondered why our relationship was moving forward until some strange man started leaving you flowers.”
“That had nothing to do with it. I-.”
“Oh no? You gave yourself to me, Jen. I thought that meant we were going to be together forever.”
“And I-.” Jen bumped up against the couch and fell down.
“You what, Jen? You want me to come night after night and be your savior and expect nothing in return? You expect me to-.”
“Logan, I want to m-.”
“Jen, you hurt me. I can’t let some other man come between us.”
“But there is no -.”
“I had to know.” He grabbed his head with both hands. See, Jen, Just like God put the Tree in the Garden with Adam and Eve to give them a choice, I gave you a choice.”
“Every day Adam and Eve looked at that Tree and they made a decision if they would love and obey God or if they would obey their flesh. The tree was there so they could decide who they loved. I needed to know who you loved, Jen.”
“No, Jen. You don’t. See you can’t force love. You have to choose it. I needed to know if you loved me more than anyone else.”
“No you don’t.” His voice was a low growl and his eyes were two white slits on his red face.
“Yes.” She squeaked out. He straightened. The red faded and his natural color returned.
“See Jen. That’s all I needed to hear.” He was calm and charming.
“What?” She scooted up on to her elbows but still felt vulnerable on the couch.
“Yes. All I needed to hear from you was yes. I’ve loved you Jen.” His voice rose again and he moved his arms wildly. She sat up and planted her feet on the ground.
“Logan?” Who was this man standing in her apartment. His eyes were intense and narrow. His voice commanding.
“What’s the matter, Jen?” He took a step toward her.
“I just-. I don’t know why you’re acting like this. I thought that…after I told you…what I wanted to tell you…that maybe…you’d…uh…spend the night.” Her voice betrayed the fear pulsating through her veins.
“Good.” He tiled his head down a bit and gawked at her. He curled the right side of his mouth up.
“I brought you a little something, Beautiful.” He stepped back toward the front door and picked something up from the floor in the hallway. “A little something special for my girl.” He picked up the white rose with a black ribbon tied around it.
“That’s not funny.” She whispered.
“No, I agree. It’s not funny that you love a man that would hurt you more than a man who tried to love you.”
“I brought you this too.” He held up the small silver charm.
“No.” She scampered to her feet but Logan blocked the exit.
“Jenny, don’t run.” He taunted. She stood on one side of the table, Logan on the other. He kept the rose to his nose and smiled at her.
The door. She remembered the patio door behind her. He didn’t have a weapon. Without breaking eye contact she backed herself to the sliding glass door. Logan tossed the rose on the couch and stepped toward her. Closer. She waited…He stepped closer and lifted the Greek charm. Closer.
“No!” She screamed at the same instant she kicked him with all the force her tired legs could muster. She spun around, jumped behind the curtain and unlocked the sliding glass door then jerked-.” It barely budged.
“C’mon.” She grimaced. It opened only a smidge. The bar-.
“Jenny.” Logan yelled.
She knelt down and flipped the bar out of the door track.
Something thudded against the glass over her head. She stood up quickly and grabbed the door handle of the sliding door. She would rip it open, run out on the balcony, then jump.
Fingers wrapped around her throat. She released the door handle and reached up to pry them loose.
Air. She needed.
“How dare you.” Logan jerked her in the apartment and shoved her down. “You are mine, Jenny. Alpha Mu Epsilon.”
It made no sense. His words were like echoes in her mind, incoherent really. Her head was in a vice grip as she fought for air. He had her on the ground. He was sitting on her and holding her throat with his right hand. Her tired limbs were pinned down. The darkness enveloped her with only a glimmer of light slicing down Logan’s calm expression.
He held the charm in front of her. Jenny kicked her legs around but couldn’t push free. She needed to breathe. He leaned down in her face. His breath was hot against her ear.
“Alpha Mu Epsilon.”
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.
This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.