Tabitha shrieked and jumped up when she felt the solid body against hers. “Who the hell are you?”
“Don’t scream, Tabitha.” A deep voice called to her as the table lamp flicked on. “You didn’t meet me tonight. I wanted to make sure you were all right. When I arrived, there was blood in the hall, your door was open, and when I stepped inside I found more blood in the entryway. I called the hospitals, and they had no listings under your name, so I stayed here to see if you would return.”
While he spoke, she noticed his body. He was an imposing figure, even sitting. He must have been two hundred and twenty pounds, all of it muscle, with arms nearly the size of her thigh. He reminded her of one of the biker guys who came into the restaurant. His chin-length black hair and broad shoulders gave him a menacing look. The only thing that hinted he might have a softer side was his spectacular ocean blue eyes.
“Back up. How do you know my name?”
“Didn’t you get the note I left on your door yesterday? My name is Ty Reynolds. I was a friend of your father’s.” He sat there on the sofa watching her, careful not to move as if worried he’d scare her.
Shock must have shown on her face, because before she could say anything, he added, “I’m not here to hurt you. If I wanted to hurt you, I would have done so already. I made a promise to your father that when you were old enough, I would tell you everything, and I would do everything I could to protect you.”
“I don’t care who you are. I want you out of my apartment!” She walked over to her door and opened it. “Please leave.”
He frowned, glancing down at the blood stains on the floor. “You seem to be uninjured…but there’s the question of the blood. What happened here?”
“Alice.” A lump formed in her throat as she fought back tears. The single word came out softer than she intended, as if it was a reminder to herself of the terror that had played out only hours before. Alice—dear protective Alice—would’ve had a fit if she knew Tabitha was alone with a man who’d broken into her apartment. “She’s a friend of mine. It’s her blood, but that’s none of your business. Now leave.” Tears stung the back of her eyes. She refused to weep. She was tough, she’d been through awful things. But this sickness, whatever it was, heightened her emotions and made her want to fall apart. What’s happening to me? She’d been asking that a lot lately.
“Listen, Tabitha, I know you’re scared, but you need to listen to me. Please just give me ten minutes.”
“You broke into my apartment and now you want me to listen to you? I don’t want anything to do with you.”