Author:Kristen Ashley

    “That’s what I said, Knight,” I told him. “Now, Mr. Knight –”

    He came out of that door with his overcoat and turned his eyes to me.

    I interrupted myself then when they hit me and I clamped my mouth closed.

    “No, not Mr. Knight. Knight. My name is Knight.”

    I stared up at him as he shrugged on his overcoat and then asked, “Your Christian name is Knight?”

    “If that means first name, yeah,” he answered, grabbed my arm and pulled me down the hall to the front door.

    As he did, curious at this information even though I should be seeing to other business, I asked, “With a ‘K’?”

    He looked down at me as he opened the door, “Yeah, babe, with a ‘K’.”

    Then he pulled me out the door.

    “That’s an unusual name,” I muttered.

    “Yeah,” he agreed, dragging me down the luxuriant hall toward the elevators.

    “I kind of like it,” I blurted because I did but after I blurted that I kind of wished I didn’t.

    “I can die happy,” he murmured.

    I pulled in breath at his murmured, mild sarcasm which was kind of funny instead of being rude and this man did not strike me as a guy who could be funny, kind of or otherwise.

    He pulled me to a stop at the elevator and I watched him lean in and tag the button. This was when I saw he had hands that matched his body. Attractive. Long fingers. Well-veined. They weren’t professionally manicured but his nails were well-kept even if his hands looked like the hands of a man who didn’t have a lavish bedroom in an opulent apartment and wore expensive shoes, tailored shirts in a color that suited him so well a stylist had to pick them for him and pricey overcoats.

    Time to stop thinking about his hands and sort this.

    “Knight, I appreciate the offer, really. Thank you but truly, I can get a taxi home.”

    “Yeah, you can but you aren’t.”

    “I –”

    His eyes sliced to me and I braced.

    “Listen, babe, I take you home I’m doin’ something. Something that requires my attention. Like driving, getting a woman home safe then driving back here. This will give me time maybe to calm down. And this will take my mind off the fact I wanna rip Nick’s dick off, shove it up his ass and send that motherfucker over my balcony.”

    Without my brain telling them to do so, I yanked my arm free of his hold, my feet took me one step away from him and my hand came up to press against the gleaming, wood-paneled wall by the elevator as I stared up at him.

    I didn’t know if he meant this. I didn’t think he did. It would be bad form to toss your roommate over a balcony even if he did have a party you obviously weren’t invited to that happened to occur in your own home. Not to mention, it was highly illegal.

    I did know he was angry.

    And last I knew he didn’t mind sharing that and just how angry he was and doing it to a woman he did not know in any way. He’d dragged me through an apartment, didn’t let me finish hardly any sentences and picked me up to carry me over a pile of coats that he obviously threw in the hallway.

    I had my hand on the wall because my legs were shaking and I needed it there to help hold me up. And my legs were shaking because I remembered he terrified me. And there was reason. He was terrifying.

    As I stood there wondering if I should scream at the top of my lungs or turn on my cheap (but cute) high-heeled sandal and run as fast as I could, something happened.

    He started paying attention to me.

    Although it was sheer lunacy that I considered it unflattering, I did and what I considered unflattering was the fact that suddenly he seemed to be looking at me and actually seeing me. Until I shifted away from him, I didn’t exist. I was just an excuse to get him away from his apartment and Nick before he let loose his fury. Now, he was looking at me, his eyes moving over me, taking me in. My face. My hair. My hand pressed against the wood paneling. Down the length of me to my shoes and up.

    And when his eyes caught mine again, his face was no different. Hard jaw, angry eyes, pissed but not at me.

    But his voice was soft when he said, “I won’t hurt you.”

    “I’d really like to take a taxi,” I whispered.

    Swift and almost imperceptibly but I caught it and he meant me to, his eyes dropped to my feet then came back to mine.

    “Taxi won’t be a hit?” he asked, still soft, and I knew that he knew from what he saw of me that paying for a taxi would be a hit for me.

    I straightened my spine, dropped my hand and assured him, “I’ll be fine.”

    The elevator doors opened and without taking his eyes from me, he lifted his hand to catch one so it wouldn’t close and he spoke. “I’ll take you home. Safe. You’ll have no problems from me. Just a ride. And you’re doin’ me a favor, givin’ me a chance to calm my shit. But swear to Christ, you can trust me.”

    “I don’t –”

    “Babe, swear to Christ, I’m just a ride. Take advantage. And do me a favor and give me an excuse to get outta here.”

    I saw his anger now. I remembered what I felt when he walked into the apartment earlier. And it was fresh in my mind all that had just happened to me at his hand. None of it hurt me but all of it was bizarre in a dangerous, scary way that demonstrated irrefutably that I should know better than to court further time and attention from this man.

    And still, I found my head tipping down so I could look at my feet. Feet that were walking me toward the elevator.

    Knight shifted his arm high and I ducked under it to enter and he entered after me.

    The doors started closing as he tagged the button B2.

    I stared at the doors.

    Yes. Sheer lunacy.

    “You’re called?”

    My neck twisted and my eyes moved up to his to see his looking at down me.

    “What?” I asked.

    “Name, babe.”


    He stared at me.

    Then he asked, “Anya?”

    “Anya,” I confirmed.

    “Anya,” he repeated and I nodded. “And you think my name’s unusual?”

    “Yes, I’ve never met anyone named Knight,” I informed him.

    “And I’ve never met anyone named Anya,” he informed me. “What is that?”

    “What is what?”

    “Your name.”

    “It’s a family name. As in, my grandmother’s.”

    “Before that,” he stated.

    “It was her grandmother’s,” I shared.

    “And before that,” he pushed then explained, “Origins.”

    “Russian,” I told him.

    “You’re Russian?” he asked.

    “My grandmother was,” I answered.

    “She grow up here?” he asked.

    “No, she grew up in St. Petersburg when it was called Leningrad. But she died here.”

    His head cocked slightly to the side but his face remained impassive. “Died?”

    I nodded. “Seventeen years ago.”

    “Babe, what are you? Twenty-three? Four?”


    His head righted. “Twenty-seven?” He sounded like he didn’t believe me.

    “Yes, twenty-seven.”

    He studied me but didn’t give anything away.

    Then he stated, “Still, she had to be young.”

    “Liver failure. She was Russian as in, from Russia. She drank vodka like it was water and that’s not a stereotype. That’s very real.”

    And it was. And she passed it down to my aunt, unfortunately.

    He looked to the doors, muttering, “That’s the fuckin’ truth.”

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