Aiming the shotgun toward the kitchen, Thea made slow and steady movements down the hall. She’d lived here for months now and knew each creaky board to side step, while the intruder didn’t know the microwave door made a loud cracking noise as it was opened. His gruff annoyed mumblings queued her into his gender and also sent a shiver up her spine. Rape and murder were not on her agenda early this morning, but if she were forced to, she’d shoot to kill.
A few more steps and she’d round the corner; the small, two-bedroom open concept house offered her little cover. Her options were to hit the corner and shoot, or hit the corner, pause, and shoot. Lovely options. She rolled her eyes. Two more steps and Thea came face-to-face with the huge man.
His blue eyes bore into hers as if he’d been waiting for her all along. The knife in his hand forgone its mission to cut turkey for the sandwich on the counter, and was now aimed in her direction. A tremor ran through her as she imagined the blade piercing her skin. She took in the room quickly before she spoke.
“Drop the fucking knife.” The words flew from her mouth so fast she stumbled over them. Fear and panic threatened to take over, the shotgun in her hands turned into a crushing weight as she struggled to aim. Thea strengthened her resolve because it wasn’t just her life at stake, but Earl’s as well. He lay helpless to fend off an attack from this huge male. The knife clattered to the floor, the sound echoing in the room. Thea, unsure of what to do next, thrust the gun in his direction. “Now, back up.” She didn’t want him lunging for the knife. Unfortunately, her cell was in her room on top of a few papers acting as a paper weight since the bill was two months past due, and the landline sat perch on the wall behind two hundred pounds of dirty male in front of her. Obligingly, the man took two steps back he eying her curiously. His gaze never left her face while he watched her. It was then she took him in completely. His arms hung limply at his sides tipped with stained hands, his posture straight, and not primed as if he didn’t feel the need to pounce. Maybe he wasn’t afraid of her; didn’t feel as if she were a threat. The air of calm he exuded did nothing to stanch her fear … if anything, it cranked up her suspicion.
Steeling her voice and praying it didn’t wobble in fear, Thea ordered, “Hands above your head.” Yet even as she stood there with a weapon in hand, aimed square at the massive behemoth’s chest, he still didn’t heed her command. With a bite, she added, “Now!” If he didn’t see her as a threat, if he thought her weak it would make his actions harder to predict. An animal trapped in a corner would attack, a man who thought it easy to subdue a woman would be more cunning. Thea wanted him in a vulnerable position, she needed to put the pressure on him to obey her commands. Still, the huge man didn’t move. Her brain scrambled to think of what to do next. She took him in, trying to remember every inch of his face just in case he got away. However, blond, grimy hair fell over one eye, a long, scruffy beard hid his mouth, and long, dirty hair obscured most of his features. Thea didn’t recognize the man as a Blackwater resident, but often times drifters made their way through the town hopping from bar to bar and hooker to hooker, and if this were the case, shit didn’t bode well for Thea.