Gracelyn Adams just thought she was depressed. After months of feeling blue, losing her friends one by one, she is at her wits end dealing with the nonstop soul-crushing despair she feels every day. Even though, she knows there is nothing at all to feel sad about. Her job is going well, her life is on track, but things go from bad to worse when she begins having ‘episodes’ at night.
Then he shows up. Inside her bedroom, in her locked apartment, on the twelfth floor. Has Gracelyn gone completely off the deep end? Or does this stranger hold all the answers to unlock this prison of sadness she’s been living in?
“Who are you? What’s happening to me?” I wailed and put my hands over my face. The bed moved beneath me again and strong arms pulled me against a granite chest. I sobbed.
Oh, my God, he was going to rape me. I thought savagely to myself, Only in New York City could you be attacked in your apartment by a Lord of the Rings fanboi decked out in full armor!
“Shh, Gracelyn, shh, you’re safe now.”
I jerked in his hold.
Safe? Safe? How did this classify as ‘safe’? How did he know my name?
“Who are you?” I demanded, remaining stiff within his embrace.
“I am Alrekr Hakon Frithjof, and I am here to protect you,” he murmured against my hair. I sucked in a breath; the tang of burning metal came off of him, an acrid smell, sharp but not unpleasant.
“I, I don’t understand,” I stammered, and his chest rose and fell in a sigh beneath my temple and cheek. “P-p-protect m-m-me from what?” I slowly lowered my hands, which still shook, from my face, and he took one of them in his large hands and pressed it flat to his chest beside my face.
“That doesn’t matter now,” he said, gently, and I swallowed hard, trembling. “Sleep, Gracelyn,” he commanded and the rumble of his voice beneath my ear made me gasp.
“I don’t understand…” I repeated, “Who are you?”
He sighed and gave a slightly exasperated growl. I flinched, and his hold tightened on me.
“I told you, I am Alrekr Hakon Frithjof, and you will understand in time. Right now, you can rest. I will stay here as long as you need me to.”
It should have creeped me out with a creep factor of twelve on a scale of one-to-ten, but I can’t for the life of me explain why it didn’t. I huddled stiff in his arms and struggled to pronounce his name.
“I will, All-however-you-say-it.”
He chuckled and I startled, not expecting that from him.
“Your modern pronunciation would be Alaric. Use that if you prefer.”
“Alaric,” I whispered, and I swear the sigh that emanated from the giant in my bed was of contentment. I swallowed hard and finished, “I would, but this is crazy. Like, really batshit, off the walls, crazy. This isn’t real, is it? You’re not really here, I’m asleep, and when I wake up this will all be a bad dream, right?”
“No,” he said, “I promise you, this is real. I am real. I also promise that I mean you no harm. Quite the opposite, in fact. I am here to protect you.”
“Protect me? Protect me from what?”
“Hush, that doesn’t matter now.” His hand found the back of my head and smoothed along my hair.
“What do you mean it doesn’t matter? It most certainly matters to me.”
Text Copyright © 2019 A.J. Downey DBA Timber Philips
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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