I stepped out of a building filled with frenetic, thumping music, tightly wrapping my coat around my body to shield myself from the cold night wind. The clothes I wore tonight were a bit more revealing than usual, a consequence of attending a party at an old friend's house.
Despite not being late at night, an eerie silence engulfed the surroundings. It was no surprise that some residents near the club chose to stay indoors after eight o'clock. Rumors had spread about gangs of criminals who didn't hesitate to commit heinous acts of violence, including rape and murder. Mere robberies were no longer enough.
Recent news reports had highlighted the criminals' brutal tendencies, emphasizing how they would kill their victims after assaulting them. This knowledge sent a shiver down my spine as I walked through the deserted streets, fearing for my safety.
Attending the nightclub had been a mistake, especially considering that I had already informed my friends, Bri and Damon, that I was leaving early and heading home. Getting in touch with them now seemed impossible, given the late hour and their likely preoccupation with the party.
"Don't move, beautiful. Take off everything on your body right now!" a man I didn't recognize commanded, his voice filled with menace. I dared not turn around to face him, knowing that an object was pointed at my head. It was undoubtedly a gun, and the thought of dying young terrified me.
I complied, removing my jewelry and handing it over to him, my body frozen in place. "The contents of your wallet!" he snapped, demanding more.
"What? No, sir. I need to get home, and I don't have anything except—" I began to protest, but before I could finish, he fired his gun. I stumbled backward, shocked, and was left with no choice but to surrender everything in my wallet.
To my dismay, it wasn't just one robber; there were three of them. And even after taking all they wanted, I foolishly believed they would leave. But they didn't. One of them approached me, his eyes fixated on my revealing attire. I cursed David for being late to pick me up, blaming him for this predicament. My palms grew sweaty, and my body trembled with fear.
"What are you going to do? You've already taken everything; please let me go. I won't report you to the police," I pleaded, my voice quivering.
"Ah! Let go of me!" I cried out as they grabbed me forcefully and threw me onto the street. Their laughter echoed through the empty and desolate surroundings, forever etching that chilling sound in my memory. In the next moment, they mocked and taunted me, leaving me utterly defenseless.
I could only surrender as one man held my arms, another gripped my legs, and a third mercilessly beat and slapped me. My dress was torn, and the man prepared to rape me while I screamed for help. Yet, my cries fell on deaf ears. What time was it? The residents nearby must have been safely tucked in their beds, unaware of the horrors transpiring just outside the club's chaotic atmosphere.
"Damon, help me," I whimpered, my desperation reaching its peak. It seemed like I would become a victim of their lust if not for the arrival of a man who swiftly incapacitated the three thugs, beating them to a pulp.
The events unfolded in a blur, as if time had slowed down for me. When I regained consciousness, the three assailants lay helpless on the ground. I mustered the courage to open my eyes and found myself gazing into the mesmerizing, intense gray eyes of the man who had come to my rescue. His rugged features and chiseled jawline gave him an undeniable air of attractiveness. He exuded a captivating aura that left me momentarily stunned.
Without averting his gaze, he removed his coat and gently draped it over my trembling form. The fabric felt warm and comforting against my chilled body. His strong yet gentle presence provided solace in the midst of chaos, and I couldn't deny the undeniable beauty emanating from him.
"Are you okay?" he asked in a deep, resonant baritone voice, filled with concern. I could sense the genuine care and empathy in his words. I nodded slowly, still captivated by his arresting presence. The man then guided me to follow him towards a parked motorcycle, the engine humming softly.
"Hop on; I'll take you home," he offered, his voice carrying a soothing reassurance. I nodded once more, silently acknowledging his offer, and followed his lead. As he revved the engine, the motorcycle surged forward, carrying us swiftly through the night.
During the ride, it felt as though I was caught in a daydream, lost in the mix of emotions and the adrenaline coursing through my veins. The man's enigmatic aura never wavered, leaving me to wonder about his identity and the depth of his character.
Finally, the motorcycle came to a halt outside my mansion, the journey passing by in a blink of an eye. As I slowly regained my bearings, I realized that I hadn't even mustered the courage to ask for his name or express my gratitude. How foolish of me!
"I hope you're doing well. Make sure to have someone attend to your wounds and provide the necessary care. And next time, never wander alone, especially at night, as not everyone knows who you are, Miss Sanchez," he said with a mix of concern and sternness.
I sighed heavily, acknowledging his advice and regretting my inability to properly thank him. The man's vehicle soon moved away, disappearing into the night, leaving me to contemplate the events that had unfolded and the mysterious stranger who had saved me.
"Oh my God, Ivanna! What happened to you?" Brianna exclaimed with concern, her eyes widening at the sight of my bruised face. I quickly tried to cover up the marks with makeup, desperate to hide the evidence of the ordeal.
Brianna, not only my trusted assistant but also one of my closest friends, had always been reliable and dedicated in her role. Over the years, she had proven her competence and unwavering support.
However, I couldn't help but notice the absence of Tatiana, who I had asked to join us at the same time as Brianna. Her delay puzzled me, adding to the turmoil of the previous night's events.
"I'm alright now, thank you for worrying," I replied, trying to downplay the severity of the situation and alleviate Brianna's concern.
"No, Vans! You should fire David for repeatedly making such mistakes! And where's Tatiana?" Brianna exclaimed, her worry extending beyond my physical well-being.
As Brianna finished her sentence, I heard footsteps approaching my room. Tatiana and Damon entered together, as they often did. Tatiana was Damon's cousin, and their close relationship made such encounters commonplace.
"I'm here. Did I miss something?" Tatiana asked playfully, her expression quickly turning to concern as she noticed my disheveled appearance.
"Oh my god, Ivanna! What happened to you?" Damon's eyes widened as he took in my bruised face. "You're supposed to take care of her, not let something like this happen. You're always so preoccupied with work."
I held back a sigh, not wanting to escalate the situation further. "Please, let's not make a big deal out of it. It's nothing compared to what could have happened."
"What do you mean?" they both asked in unison, their concern growing.
"They almost assaulted me," I confessed, my voice barely above a whisper. Damon's face contorted with anger as he moved closer to examine my injuries.
"But how are you now? Who did this to you, Ivanna? Tell me so I can make them pay!" Damon growled, clenching his fists tightly. I gently reached out and stroked his jaw, offering him the warmest smile I could manage.
"I'm fine, dear. There's no need to worry about anything," I reassured him, wanting to avoid further conflict. The last thing I wanted was to exacerbate the situation.
"No! I think you should have a personal bodyguard!" Brianna chimed in, her voice filled with determination. "Someone to ensure your safety at all times."
"I appreciate your concern, Brianna, but I just want to find one person, if possible. The person who saved me from those attackers," I explained, hoping they would understand my desire.
The others furrowed their brows, unsure of what to make of my request. The room fell into a brief silence as they processed my words, contemplating the significance of finding the mysterious stranger who had come to my rescue.
In a swift motion, Tatiana held up her cellphone, showing me a displayed identity and a photo of someone who seemed familiar. However, the impact from the previous night's attack had left me struggling to remember the man in the picture.
"What's this?" I asked, puzzled by Tatiana's sudden revelation. She had a knack for surprising actions without offering explanations unless prompted.
"Your future bodyguard. And you can't say no. His name is Jax, and he'll be arriving this afternoon. So be prepared. Damon and I will be away for a while," Tatiana explained, rising from her seat to plant a peck on my cheek.
"Where are you both going?" I inquired, curious about their frequent outings together. While I couldn't feel jealous because Damon and Tatiana were bound by family ties, I couldn't help but wonder if something else was at play.
"We're organizing a fundraising event for cancer patients, remember? The hospital we funded is hosting the event," Tatiana clarified, her words catching me off guard. How could I have been unaware of such a significant event?
I turned to Damon, seeking an explanation for Tatiana's statement. However, he seemed distant, not meeting my gaze. What was happening now? Was there something I didn't know?
"Never mind! We can't talk about it now, okay? We'll be late if we don't leave soon. Besides, Jax is already on his way here," Tatiana interjected, eager to redirect the conversation.
"Do you even know who Jax is?" I inquired, hoping for more information. Tatiana simply shrugged, offering a hesitant response.
"I found him through a private bodyguard search platform. A friend recommended him, so you won't be disappointed. Alright, everyone, I'm heading out first," Tatiana declared before leaving.
As I watched their departure, Bri remained by my side, understanding the turmoil I was experiencing.
"Stay calm, Vans. They're just cousins; there's nothing more to it. Tatiana would never betray you," Bri reassured me.
"Yeah, I hope so," I replied with a mix of uncertainty and hope.
Truly, I did hope that everything was as it seemed.
I had already prepared myself for Jax's arrival and knew exactly what to say when he appeared. Soon enough, the man we had been waiting for arrived, accompanied by a group of imposing bodyguards. There wasn't much to describe about him because he matched my expectations perfectly. Even though he had worn a hood when he rescued me, it was impossible not to recognize his voice and scent. He was indeed the man who had saved me from the horrifying incident the previous night.
"I never expected that saving you would bring me good fortune, Miss Sanchez. How can I be of service to you?" the man asked in his deep, resonant baritone voice. Just hearing him speak made my heart skip a beat. It couldn't be love, of course. My heart belonged to Damon alone. However, I couldn't deny the undeniable charm this man possessed.
"Have you done this type of work before?" I inquired.
He nodded. "It's been ten years since I left the police force. Is that enough experience for you? I was once part of a peacekeeping force in Syria and served as a personal bodyguard to the country's future leader. Unfortunately, I couldn't protect him."
"What happened to him?" I asked, my hands covering my mouth in shock. I hadn't expected to hear such a grim story, but at least I knew the extent of this man's experience.
"He took his own life," he replied.
I was taken aback, but I understood the weight of his past. "When can you start working?" I asked, getting straight to the point. He was the man who had saved me, and I knew how skilled he was in martial arts and similar fields. As for his physical attractiveness, well, that was an added bonus for me.
"Whenever you want. Now?" Jax confirmed, and I nodded. No one in their right mind would refuse optimal protection, especially under the current circumstances.
He seemed to agree and accepted the suit and communication device that Brianna handed him. Then he left to change his clothes and returned, looking polished and different. His previously disheveled hair was now neatly combed, and he had trimmed his sideburns, giving him a more commanding and handsome appearance.
Yet, in my eyes, this man was still too charismatic for a personal bodyguard.
"May I know your schedule for today, Ms. Sanchez?" the man asked. Brianna promptly handed him a tablet, and I watched as he quickly scrolled through the contents, absorbing the information from top to bottom. After a moment, he nodded.
"So, today you're heading to the hospital first?" he confirmed.
"Yes, that's correct. But... I'm worried about that gang of criminals still lurking around," I voiced my concern.
"That's why I'm here, Miss. You can prepare yourself while I keep watch outside," he assured me, pausing for a moment before continuing. "It's an honor to work with you, Miss Sanchez."
With that, he turned and left me with Brianna, who raised an eyebrow briefly before handing me a set of clothes to wear to the hospital.
"Oh, no!" I exclaimed, feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension.