Running. It felt like I had been running forever. My flight instinct kicked in as soon as I saw him reach out to grab me, not my purse or cell phone or any other possessions I was carrying, but me. Bells and whistles crashed behind my eyes and I took off as fast as I could, which granted, wasn't fast enough as my tracker was quickly catching up to me. My mind was on speed, reeling through different situations and how to get out of them, each event more gruesome than the last. I heard harsh, gruff pants behind me. He was close. I could almost smell his breath. The scent was sharp, as though he had just recently consumed something spicy. Sharp! I quickly turned into an alleyway on my right, just as I had seen it out of the corner of my eye. Just when I felt some small bit of victory, I was hit from behind and tackled to the ground. The air in my lungs was forced out and very little oxygen was making its way back in. Dots that had appeared behind my eyes were starting to recede when all of a sudden the weight was gone and I was back on my unsteady feet. His hand didn't even register in my brain until it was dropping back down to his side and my cheek stung from his forceful slap. The metallic taste of blood filled my mouth and I spat at his feet.
"Foolish," he muttered. His voice was so low I was not sure I had heard him speak at all. I could have confused it with the wind humming through the alley. Behind him, I saw papers skirt across the pavement, but I could hear nothing but the wind that carried them. He must have noticed that I was distracted, because his next move was to shove me back against the wall. The second my spine connected with the brick, my legs gave out from under me and I collapsed in a heap on the ground. Pain shot up my sides, through my limbs and to my head. I shifted slightly, but even with the small movement, I was unsure if any of my bones were broken. I heard him give an amused hum. The fact that my pain gave him gratification made me sick. My vision was vingnetting, but I could still see him in front of me, as clear as ever. His blond hair was tousled from running after me, but it was still, despite the slight breeze that moved around us and caressed my skin with a chill. His eyes were unnaturally dark, almost as black as the night behind him.
He crouched in front of me and his eyes narrowed as he studied me. Slowly, his hand moved to his side, and it returned to the front of his body with a pistol. I stared at the barrel. I heard a far off click and my barely-there mind registered the sound as the safety being turned off. My stomach lurched and I turned my head to the side and spit out more blood that had pooled in my mouth. His snarl made me turn back to face him. When he hit me the second time, this time with the gun itself, I didn't bother to flinch, despite the pain in my jaw when unforgiving metal collided with bone. Instead, I kept my head at the angle it was forced to. I felt the tears well in my eyes, but the last thing I wanted to do was give him the satisfaction of defeating me. If the tears fell, I was defeated.
"Stephen." The whisper that left my bloodstained lips was so choked I was surprised it was my voice at all. Rough, calloused fingers touched my cheek and I was brought back to face the liquid onyx of the man's eyes.
"Do not fight me," he said. He paired his words with threatening movements with his gun. Cool metal rummaged away at the fabric of my shirt and found its way to my chest. It burned against my skin. Any movement by his index finger and I would never leave this alley.
"Stephen," I responded quietly after wetting my chapped lips.
The liquid onyx hardened. "He will be a complication, yes. How he could ever fall in love with you—let alone how you could fall in love with him!—is beyond me. But he will fall. Without a doubt, you will both fall."
I was frozen in fear. "Im…impossible," I moaned between gasps, a hint of defiance in my tone. He sighed and stood.
"Do not make this difficult, Ana. It will be your undoing."
I didn't have much strength left, but I knew I couldn't give in. I couldn't, and wouldn't let him win. I struggled to take a breath, but when I did, I managed to yell out the name of the one person I knew could save me.
"Stephen! Stephen! Ste…"
It was the third blow from the man with the bottomless, black hole eyes that sent me away to be a prisoner of blissful, painless darkness.