Emma looked around desperately. She needed someone who could help her without drawing too much attention to them. Her eyes caught on ocean blue ones and held.
Her breath stilled in her throat as time appeared suspended. A man was staring at her, one who embodied tall, dark, and handsome. Emma registered his attractiveness, but what held most of her attention was the voice inside her that spoke as soon as their eyes met.
He’ll keep you safe.
Allowing instinct to rule her in her panic, she began moving toward him. He straightened immediately from the stall he was leaning against and began making his way toward her, with his hand on the hilt of his sword. She couldn’t run, but his long legs were eating up space.
Emma didn’t know what came over her, but when they were close enough to each other, she simply threw herself in his arms. She wanted the feeling of safety her instincts had promised her, knowing just as well that she would be disappointed because they didn’t know each other. But to her surprise, his arms wrapped around her tightly and held her close. One hand was splayed high on her back and there was something else pressed low against her back that wasn’t a hand. Before her curious mind could focus on it, he spoke.
“Aye, lass. I’ve got you.”
His voice made her shiver. The low, gravel tones soothed her beyond belief and she trusted that her instincts had been correct. She pulled away to look up at him and his hand came up to smooth down her hair and tuck a lock of it behind her ear. His eyes consumed her again and she knew he was about to ask who he needed to harm for scaring her. She was beginning to doubt herself, though, and the strange sense of safety she was experiencing with this man.
She was literally running through the streets trying not to let the worst happen to her because of one of the worst men she’d ever met. Emma knew how to handle herself, but even she couldn’t fight off three grown men in a narrow alley. It had been all she could do to escape. When she sent Clarence packing last week, she hadn’t expected that he would be so determined or so cowardly as to convince two other men to join in on the fun, just so he could have what he wanted from her.
Emma thought she heard distant footsteps coming closer and almost whirled to protect her back from those men. The man’s arm caught her around the waist and held her close.
“I’ve got you, lass,” he repeated.
Emma almost sighed in frustration, knowing she’d managed to make her situation even more complicated by whatever insanity had compelled her to trust him moments ago.
Something cold and curved pressed into the bottom of her chin, lifting her face towards his. She automatically pulled back and glanced down to find out what was causing the sensation since it was his arm he’d lifted. She should have been feeling the warmth of his hand.
A hook was what her eyes fell upon instead. Emma froze in surprise. Had she really jumped from the pan and straight into fire?
“Love,” he said. She met his gaze with wide eyes. “I won’t hurt you. I’ll protect you from what you’re so afraid of. I won’t ask for anything in return.”
Emma was so conflicted. Part of her wanted to point out that she wasn’t his love. They’d met for the first time hardly minutes ago. Nothing she could infer about him was good, and she was trouble, much more than he'd probably bargained for, even considering this absurd situation.
Part of her wanted to point out that everyone hurt her. That she couldn’t trust anyone for protection. That nothing came without a price.
But part of her, underscored by her super power informing her that this man was being utterly honest, believed every word that came out of his mouth.
It was too late to make a different bet anyway. She could tell by the way his gaze shifted over her shoulder, the way his eyes narrowed and darkened in anger, that he had spotted her assailants.
Emma sighed and fell into his chest again. His hook pressed into her back as his hand rested on the hilt of his sword.
She had no idea what his excuse would be for his interference, but he might not even need one. She couldn’t imagine that even those morons would risk truly angering Captain Hook.