Excerpt: Saved By The Glass Slipper
I had to get away from the man in black, chasing me down the sidewalk in downtown Devon, Florida. Something like this always happened in the movies—but not in my life. The mild-mannered bank teller decides to take a break at the beach nearby and wham!—she's attacked by a huge man who's always dressed in black—usually at night. It would be cool to see it on the big screen, but this was different. This was reality, it was lunchtime, and I was the victim.
Running into the middle of a busy street, I knew the man in black with the big dark eyes wouldn't be stupid enough to follow. While I waited on the yellow lines, cars blasted their horns as they passed. This wasn't exactly one of my brightest ideas, but being chased by a muscle-clad man isn't an everyday occurrence either. As I glanced back at him still standing on the sidewalk from where I'd started, he glared at me, then watched the traffic pass by.
When the traffic light changed, I finally got a break, so I dodged waiting cars and ran to the other side. Some Asian men on the sidewalk watched me approach, but I ignored them, checking for the big man in black running after me.
Taking off down the sidewalk, I ran south, dodging pedestrians. The small town was crowded for a Friday morning in May, a small break in time between Spring Break and summer vacation. Located on Florida's west coast, Devon was a small often-forgotten town between Fort Myers and Naples.
At the next intersection, I turned west on another sidewalk, finally able to see the Gulf of Mexico in front of me. I could feel the man in black lessening the distance between us and glanced back to verify my thoughts. For some reason, the Asian men were behind him by about a hundred yards, making me wonder if they were going to the beach, too. But why would they run? The ocean wasn't going anywhere. Maybe they were just tourists, excited to be here.
Once I hit sand at the end of the brick building, I turned a corner and ran smack-dab into a beautiful specimen of a man with blue eyes and short brown hair.
He stopped me with both hands on my shoulders before I bowled him over. "Slow down."
"Sorry," I said, then gasped, moving to run past him.
He grabbed my arm and held me back. "Are you out jogging?"
"Not exactly." I looked behind me. The man in black wasn't there but I was sure he was hiding somewhere.
"Why are you running, then?"
"Someone's chasing me." I extracted myself from his grasp and took off down the beach. Running for all I was worth, I knew I could outrun the man in black. I'd practiced running distances for some time, in case something just like this would happen. I knew it was just a matter of time, but never thought my chaser would be so large and evil looking.
The adorable man caught up then ran in front of me right just as I reached the water line. He was a fast runner, because I'd been in training for a while.
"Stop!" he yelled, trying to breathe.
I pushed past him. "I can't. I'll be killed."
He took hold of my hand and pulled me toward him, gasped for air, and searched my face with his eyes. "Why?"
I wished I'd had my purse with me for defense, just in case. He was stronger than I was, because I couldn't pull myself from his hand. I leaned down to catch my breath for a moment, then stood up. "Are you a serial killer?"
Mr. Adorable began to laugh. "No. What's going on?"
I sucked in some air and faced him. "There's a huge man in black chasing me. He looks like a murderer."
The man searched the area behind me, letting go of my hand. "There's no one there."
I spun around. The beach was empty, except for a few families with kids, about a hundred yards away from us. "Where did he go?"
He looked at me as if I were nuts as I faced him again. "I have no idea. I'm friends with the local cops if you need help."
"I don't know what I'd tell them. How can I prove someone's after me if they've disappeared?"
"You're right. If you said anything, it would look like you're crazy. Have you eaten lunch yet?"
The man in black was chasing me and this guy was thinking about lunch? How odd. I should've said 'no' and gone back to work, but for some reason, I felt safe with this man. I doubted the man in black would return when this guy was near me. "No, I wasn't going to eat lunch. I was just out to walk on the beach, but someone else had other ideas." Reaching down, I took off my flat shoes and poured out the sand. Running in a skirt wasn't fun, but at least I wasn't wearing heels.
As soon as I replaced my shoes on my feet, the man grinned, grabbed my hand, and shook it. "The name's Mark Dallas, and I'd like to take you to lunch." He watched me for a minute. "That is, if you'd like to come with me."
"Oh, I can't impose—"
"No imposition whatsoever and I promise." He checked my left hand. "No husband coming to hunt me down, so you're free, right?"
"No, no one…anymore. I'm free."
"It's a long story, but definite history." The guy's smile was endearing, and I couldn't refuse those eyes anything they wanted. I had to remind myself to be wary. "I'm Amy Watson, by the way."
He rested my hand in the crook of his elbow and walked with me up the beach toward a small hotdog shop. "I guess I'm just lucky to be here over lunch today. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to save you from whoever was chasing you."
"I guess so."
He glanced my way. "Why were they chasing you?"
I could only imagine, but this guy didn't need my baggage or any of my secrets. If someone was willing to chase me for it, he certainly didn't need to be involved. "I have no idea. I'm a nobody. It's not as if I have money hanging off me or anything." I turned toward him. "You're not friends with the man who was chasing me, are you?"
He pointed toward himself. "Me? Do I look like someone who'd be friends with a chaser?"
"Not really. I just have to make sure you're not a serial killer or something."
"That's the second time you mentioned that. But, think about it. If I'm friends with the police, could I possibly be a serial killer? I highly doubt they'd consider the police their friends."
"How do I know you're friends with the—"
A cop walked out of a shop right near us, as if right on cue. "Mr. Dallas! How are you doing today?" He shook Mark's hand and smiled.
"Oh, I'm fine, Craig. Hope the kids are doing better."
"Yes, they're fine now. It was just the flu. Take care." The policeman walked back the way I'd come from around the corner.
"I stand corrected," I murmured. "How do you know him?"
"Oh, the whole police station comes over to work to make sure we're safe. We feed them donuts to guarantee they'll come back." He leaned closer to me. "They're suckers for donuts, especially the filled ones."
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