Free Me (Caged Hearts Book 1)

BOOK: Free Me (Caged Hearts Book 1)
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.

 

Free Me copyright 2015 by Heather West. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission.

Chapter 1

 

Kaitlyn Stewart waved at the night security guard who was leaning against the reception desk. He glanced up and gave her a sad smile.

 

“Working late again, Kait?” He asked, showing concern.

 

Kait rolled her eyes and pushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear.

 

“You know it, Rob.”

 

“You work too hard, anyone ever tell you that?”

 

“You’ve made quite the habit of telling me,” Kait mocked with a warm smile.

 

“Well just you take care,” Rob offered as he did every night. “Pretty girl like you shouldn’t be walking around on her own after dark.”

 

“This isn’t the seventies, Rob,” Kait laughed as she pushed open the glass doors that served as the entrance to her office building. The sharp night air pressed up against her, causing her to shiver beneath her designer trench coat. Drawing her arms close to her body, she lowered her head and started to walk purposefully towards the high rise parking lot where her car had been waiting for her since first light.

 

Kait was grateful of the brisk evening air which pulled at her long blonde hair. It was a pleasant change from the stuffy recirculated air of the office where she worked. She just wished that the days were longer during the winter months. Lately, she arrived at work in darkness and left when the stars were out shining once again. She missed the warmth of sunlight upon her skin. The tan she was currently sporting had come via bottle.

 

Her black stiletto shoes snapped sharply against the hard ground as she hurriedly approached the imposing structure of the parking lot. She tottered over to the elevator, pressed a button with a manicured finger, and patiently waited for it to arrive. As she waited she sent a few cursory glances around the ground floor of the parking lot. It was deserted. All the other cars had long since gone home for the day.

 

Kait shivered. She wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or from unease. She hoped that a few cars would remain on the fourth floor where she was parked. The elevator arrived with a gentle chime, and the doors begrudgingly parted, granting her access inside. Stepping inside, Kait stiffened as she thought she saw a shadow move just beyond her peripheral vision. She strained to look back in to the parking lot, but the doors were already closing, limiting her view.

 

“I need to stop working so late,” Kait mumbled to herself as the elevator began to ascend. Lately, she was working late every night. She was desperate for a promotion and did everything she could to prove her diligence to her boss, Sarah. She worked overtime, she picked up extra jobs, and she never left an email unanswered. Kait was pushing herself in the vain hope that it would ultimately pay off. A promotion would enable her to put down a deposit on the house she’d been coveting for months. She’d be able to pay off all her debts and finally start having the career she’d always dreamed of. But Sarah was notorious for never promoting anyone. Kait was determined to win Sarah over, to get the promotion she so sorely deserved.

 

The elevator arrived on the fourth floor, and the doors slowly parted. Kait stepped out and to her dismay saw that her little Fiat 500 was the only car remaining there.

 

“Damn it,” Kait quickened her pace as she approached her cream coloured car. She didn’t like being the last person in the parking lot; there was something creepy about the place at night. There were too many shadows, too many concrete pillars someone could hide behind. Kait was just a few feet from her car, her key palmed in her hand in readiness when a force pushed her from behind. The sharp clatter of her own footsteps had hidden the scrambled run of her assailant from her.

 

Kait lost her balance and tumbled awkwardly against the concrete ground, losing her grip on both her handbag and her car keys which skittered away from her.

 

“Come on then, bitch!” Rough hands rolled Kait on to her front. She glanced up to see a man with an angry face and several gold teeth staring down at her. His breath smelt of cheap cider.

 

“Please, just let me go,” Kait pleaded, raising her hands to shield her face.

 

“Let’s take her car!” A nearby voice sneered.

 

“Or let’s just take her,” another declared viciously. “She’s really pretty.”

 

Kait felt her face growing hot. This surely wasn’t happening. She was alone in a parking lot about to be attacked by three thugs. She could shout, but who would hear her?

 

“Please,” Kait pleaded with them as she saw the angry faced man pull a knife out from his pocket. It glinted beneath the bright overhead lights in the parking lot. Kait held her breath in anticipation.

 

“If you scream, I’ll cut your throat,” the man told her, and from the grim expression on his face, she knew he wasn’t joking. Deep lines were etched over his forehead and down his cheeks along with multiple scars. He was the kind of man who knew how it felt to take another life, and he’d end Kait here and now upon the hard concrete floor and not give her another thought.

 

Kait’s heart began to beat madly in her chest. Her mind was overwhelmed with a jumble of thoughts. She wished that she’d spent less time at work, that she’d spent more time actually living. Before her mother had succumbed to cancer, she was always telling Kait that she worked too hard, that she needed to get out and live while she could. It had been three years since she’d last had a boyfriend. Sure she’d had flings, but they never went anywhere. Kait didn’t have time for anything serious, and she always managed to push potential suitors away with her unavailability.

 

“So…who is going first?” The man with the knife leaned down towards Kait as the two behind him snickered to themselves. She glanced at his knife and wondered if she’d be able to kick it out of his hand. He must have sensed her intentions because the dense weight of a boot suddenly connected with Kait’s ribs, knocking the air out of her lungs.

 

“Don’t be getting no ideas now, bitch,” he told her, his eyes bulging with madness. Pain burned in Kate’s chest. How hard had he kicked her? Had he broken a rib? She was convinced that once they’d had their way with her they were going to kill her. So this was how her life was going to end. Kaitlyn Stewart, the goody two shoes at school ended up being raped and stabbed to death by three strangers. People would wake up to the news of her demise; would they even care as they read their papers and watched the reports over their bowls of cereal and cups of coffee?

 

Suddenly one of the men gave a high pitched squeal like a pig. Kait shifted her gaze in time to see him hurled to the ground. He connected with the concrete with a sickening thud. Further away, she heard the unpleasant sound of flesh pounding upon flesh. Punches were being thrown. Then, a second body landed heavily on the ground.

 

“You fucking stay away from me, you hear?” The man with the knife straightened, looking beyond Kait. His grip on the blade tightened. “I’ll gut you like a fish, you hear me?” He slashed his knife through the air as something sprung from the shadows. Blood rained down on Kait’s face as the gold toothed man was overpowered. He gasped several times in pain and then staggered away from Kait, gripping his sides.

 

Struggling to breathe thanks to the kick to her ribs, Kait watched the man hobble over to his fallen friends. Together they hurriedly clamoured to their feet looking severally worse for wear. Blood spouted from their noses, and they moved as though they might have some broken bones.

 

“Get the hell out of here before I call the police!” A deep voice from close to Kait boomed at them. The men scurried away, back into the shadows where they had come from.

 

Strong arms lifted Kait from beneath her shoulders and helped her sit up.

 

“Are you okay?” The deep voice asked her, but it sounded kinder now, warmer. Trembling in her trench coat, Kait looked in to the eyes of the person who had saved her. Eyes the colour of strong coffee looked back at her.

 

“Th-thank you,” Kait managed to find her voice as her vision sharpened. A man was kneeling beside her, gazing into her eyes. The jeans and t-shirt he were wearing struggled to contain his bulging frame and rippling muscles. His exposed arms were as thick as tree trunks. Short, dark hair clung to his scalp, and his skin was the same deep colour as his eyes. He was the most alluring man Kait had even seen. She blinked at him repeatedly, wondering if she was having some sort of hallucination.

 

“I was coming back from the gym when I spotted those arseholes following you in here,” he explained in his deep voice which soothed Kait. Each word sounded like it was coated in delicious caramel.

 

“Well, thank you,” Kait breathed again, struggling to her feet. The handsome stranger immediately helped her up. He was so impossibly strong, yet his touch as he held her arms was soft and tender; he was a gentle giant.

 

“I’m Jasper Duboix,” he offered with a smile which lit up his entire face.

 

“Kaitlyn Stewart,” Kait told him breathlessly.

 

“Pleasure to meet you, Kaitlyn.” His smile broadened, and Kait thought she might melt. But then she saw the blood stain spreading through his tight fitting t-shirt.

 

“Oh my God, he stabbed you!” She stiffened with alarm.

 

Jasper looked down at himself in bemusement and shrugged.

 

“It’s just a scratch.”

 

“Just a scratch?” Kait’s eyes widened at him. There was far too much blood for just a scratch.

 

“I’ll be fine; I’m more concerned about you.”

 

“We need to get you to hospital,” Kait insisted, glancing at the floor and stooping to retrieve her bag and keys once she’d located them.

 

“I don’t need to go to hospital.”

 

“Yes, you do,” Kait told him sternly as she strutted towards her car. “You might need stitches. I’ll drive you.”

 

She threw open the car door and positioned herself behind the wheel.

 

“Come on!” She urged to Jasper who slowly walked up behind her. But he didn’t get in the car; he remained by the bonnet wearing a stern expression. “Get in!” Kait told him sharply.

 

“I’m not going to the hospital.”

 

Kait released the wheel she’d been gripping tightly and sighed dramatically. She could still see the blood on Jasper’s t-shirt. He’d been hurt because he’d chosen to help her. He had saved her life; she couldn’t just thank him and send him on his way. She needed to help him. But if he was refusing to go to hospital, what choice did she have?

 

“Fine,” Kait conceded, “no hospital. But please let me take you back to my place and patch you up a bit.”

 

Jasper looked hesitant at her offer.

 

“Please, it’s the least I can do.”

 

For a moment, she thought he was just going to walk away, to slink in to the shadows and never look back. And even though she was still a relative stranger, the thought of him just leaving like that caused knots to form in Kait’s stomach. To her relief, he walked slowly around the car and climbed in the passenger side.

 

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to get cleaned up,” he announced as he buckled his seat belt. Smiling, Kait started the car’s engine and pulled forward.

 

“I really appreciate what you did for me,” she told him as she steered around the tight bends in the parking lot towards the exit, seeing no signs of the men who previously assaulted her.

 

“It’s no problem, really,” Jasper told her humbly, clearly not relishing his new role of hero.

 

BOOK: Free Me (Caged Hearts Book 1)
7.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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