Exhausted from just these past few minutes of emotional stress, I plop myself back against the grass and just sit there, observing Xane while he sits awkwardly on top of an abusive, writhing man who is aggressively furious with both of us.
Finally, after several long minutes, emergency vehicles arrive with flashing lights and blaring sirens. “What’s going on here,” one officer asks.
“These kind strangers saved my little boy from the abusive husband I should have left a long time ago,” the woman speaks up.
“How did you happen upon this situation,” the officer asks as two other officers take the abusive man into custody so Xane can stand up.
“The only way to explain it is that God led us into the right place at the right time,” Xane answers. “We were driving through the neighborhood, when Mal here had a feeling that we should stop. So, we did and seconds later, the little boy came running out of that house and into her arms as the man chased after him with that knife.” He points across the sidewalk to the knife.
The officer notices Xane’s slashed arm and beaten up face and asks, “How did you manage to get so beaten up?”
“When he went to slash at them, I stuck my arm out in the way and he slashed me instead. Then, he diverted his attention away from them and toward me. I managed to knock the knife from his hand and after a few minutes, wrestled him to the ground where we remained until you arrived.”
“And the handcuffs?”
“I’ll fight if I have to, but I’m not an advocate for violence, so I keep handcuffs in my car in case of emergency,” Xane explains simply.
“Well, you did a fine job, young man,” the officer commends. Then he turns to me. “You’re in good hands, young lady.”
Aware of his misconception that we must be dating, I ignore it and agree. “I think so too.” Xane and I exchange smiles.
After further questioning, the emergency responders leave us alone with the woman and her child. “H, H, Hello,” she says nervously. “Thanks, for, uh, for saving us. I don’t think I’d have been brave enough to turn him in if it wasn’t for your bravery. So, thank you both, so much.”
“Anytime,” Xane promises.
“If you ever need anything else,” I say, handing her a personal card from my pocket. “Give me a call. I might be able to help you find other people to help you or even just friends to encourage you.”
“Thank you,” she says again. Looking at my card, she reads my name. “Mal, what a pretty and unique name.” She smiles kindly. “My name is Laura.”
“Nice to meet you, Laura,” I say with a sudden urge to hug her and the child she’s still holding. As I hug her I say, “I’m so glad you’re both okay. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Xane and I are always here for you.”
“Yes, we are,” Xane agrees.
“I think I’m good for now,” Laura says gratefully. “You go take care of yourselves now. Xane’s injuries won’t clean themselves.”
Suddenly aware of just how beaten up he is, a rush of concern floods through me. “She’s right. Get in the passenger seat. My house is closer than the house is and you need to be cleaned up.”
“We have a whole team of medical experts at the house,” he tells me.
“Yeah, but I’m the Chosen One, which means I can help anyone better than anyone, right?”
“You’re going to use that card any time you want your way, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, probably, but if you just agree with me, then I won’t have to use it,” I tease as I turn the car around and head to my house.
“You’re so full of it,” he laughs.
“So, I’ve been told,” I smile.
“So, this is your place,” Xane says as we enter my apartment near the beach.
“Haven’t you already seen it,” I ask obviously.
“Well, yeah, but only from the outside a couple of times,” he admits.
“It’s small, I know,” I say after a few moments of silence.
“No,” he contradicts. “It’s nice and not at all what I expected,” he admits.
“You’ve thought about what my apartment might look like inside,” I tease.
“Yeah, I mean,” he starts.
“Sit,” I say pointing at a bar stool in my kitchen. “And take off your shirt.”
“Why,” he flirts. “You wanna see what’s under the clothes, Brooke Davis?”
Slightly impressed I ask, “Did you really just quote One Tree Hill?”
I roll my eyes as he wiggles his eyebrows in a seductively, flirty way. He shakes his head in a sobering way while I pull my first aid kit down from off the fridge. “Anyway, it’s been my job for a while now to watch you, so naturally, I’ve become curious about who you really are.”
“And let me guess,” I say as I rummage through my first aid kit to find the right medical supplies. “You imagined something shallower; something fitting for a cliché California girl?” I finally find what I need and go to observe his wounds.
“No, of course not,” he swears. “Actually, I don’t really know what I expected. I just… didn’t expect it to be so…”
“So, what,” I ask irrationally offensively.
While I wipe an open bruise on his chest, he considers his answer. “So, telling, and yet, so quiet and reserved at the same time. It’s…comfy.”
I look at him curiously, wondering if he really just quoted a second of my favorite TV shows in as many minutes. Instead of responding, I just continue cleaning his various small wounds. As I tiptoe to reach his shoulder, because at five-foot-four, I’m probably a good half to full foot short than he is. “And yes,” he whispers in my ear. “I did just quote Buffy only moments after quoting One Tree Hill. Like I said, it’s been my job to get to know you from a distance for a while now,” he says.