Previously, on Dark Goddess:
Hands reached out, touched her. Grabbed at her arms, at her clothes. Her panic made thinking impossible, and every hand belonged to her captor. She jerked away from them.
A body planted itself in front of her, white and blue, hands out, blocking. She saw its mouth moving, heard words but didn’t understand them.
She tried to sidestep, but tripped. She fell, landing on her elbow.
The body knelt in front of her. “Miss, calm down,” it said. “You’re fine. You’re safe.”
The security guard. He was there, kneeling, looking at her through concerned eyes.
Kali pushed herself up. “A man tried to kidnap me. He had a gun. At the movie.”
“Is he still here?”
“I don’t know. I ran away.” She swiped at her chin, her hand coming away streaked with blood.
“He hurt you?”
“He twisted my arm. Threw me on the ground. He…” She broke off and inhaled. Her lungs made an unfamiliar wheezing sound as she did. The block in her throat made it impossible to get enough air.
“Have her put her head between her knees,” someone in the surrounding crowd said.
“No, she should lay down. Put her feet up.”
“Anyone have a paper bag?”
“I have an inhaler! Do you want to borrow it?”
The guard pressed the talk button on the walkie-talkie on his shoulder. “Operator?”
“I have a fifteen-year-old…”
“Seventeen,” Kali corrected, still wheezing.
He raised an eyebrow, but said, “Seventeen-year-old female in respiratory distress. She says she was forcibly taken at gunpoint from the movies. Contact the police and call for an ambulance.”
The guard placed his hand on her shoulder. “Just close your eyes and try to relax. Take deep breaths. You’re going to be fine.”
Kali nodded. Closed her eyes. When she tried to breathe through her nose, she couldn’t get enough air. At the end of each breath, she had to open her mouth and gasp.
“Miss, can you describe your assailant? Hair color, clothing, and feat…”
He was cut off by a piercing scream. Breaks squealed. There was a loud crash.
A van barreled through the plaza. It plowed benches and kiosks in its path, barely missing people as it bore down on Kali and the security guard.
Kali’s gaze was riveted on the man behind the wheel. The cold grey eyes staring at her. Determination in every line of his face as he glared at her. He didn’t look at the people who fled his path or the kiosks that dented and scratched his fender. He didn’t notice the security guard next to her that had drawn his gun. The man’s gaze was for Kali alone.
“That’s him,” Kali whispered. She stood. The world around her moved in slow motion. Screams dimmed. Bodies faded. The air went still.
Then, the guard planted himself in front of her. “Stop!” His arms trembled as he took aim at the van racing toward them.
Tires screeched. The van swerved to a stop. The man climbed out, shotgun in hand. He aimed at the guard.
“Get out of the way.”
“Put the gun down and get on the ground.”
Kali shook her head and covered her eyes. She knew what would happen, and she didn’t want to see.
“I said, ‘get out of my way,’” her captor repeated.
Kali peeked through her fingers.
“Put it down!”
The man fired.
The sound echoed off the windows of the shops. A silence fell, like all the air had been sucked off the earth. Like time had frozen.
The guard collapsed.
Her captor was at her side before she dropped her hands from her eyes. He took her wrist and pulled. “No more fighting, Kali,” he said.
A cold, dark anger welled through her. Fear fell away. She tightened her jaw, tossed her hair back from her face, and met his eyes. “Fuck you.”
Too late, she saw the butt of the shotgun. The world exploded in a red, hot light.