Isabella quickened her pace through Cherry Street alley, avoiding Pigs Alley tonight. It was alarming to hear people cheering and yelling from so far away. She wrapped her arms around herself, the wind picking up and whipping through her hair.
Click, click, click . . .
Her heels echoed off the empty buildings around her.
But hers weren’t the only ones, and she got the distinct feeling she was being followed.
In a burst of adrenaline, she was running down the street, avoiding taking a glance behind her.
What if there really was a dangerous person following?
She knew how to defend herself, but if there was more than one, she might be in trouble.
She flew at her door once it was in sight, jammed the key in and as the lock gave way, a hand reached out and latched onto her upper arm.
Her hand swung out and contacted a face.
“Let me go!” she howled.
The man gripped her harder and then discarded her like a dishrag, tossing her up against the door.
“Shhh . . . It’s me, Isabella. Sorry if I frightened you,” Stanford said.
“Oh, Jesus, sorry . . .” She chuckled, but it was tight and tinny sounding.
“I . . . Well, I was heading home as well, and wanted to make sure you arrived safely.” His eyes drifted down to her breasts.
She shrugged out of his hold, wrapped her coat tighter around her and crossed her arms over her chest, feigning being chilled from the wintry air.
“Thank you for your chivalry, but as you can see, I am quite safe. I am tired and want to go to sleep now. The day’s been wearying,” she said, turning the key the rest of the way.
“Will you not reconsider? My bed is cold, it needs warmth, and I have recently come into a good fortune.” He pulled out a wad of cash and showed it to her.
Her eyes went lifeless. “No, Mr. Stanford. I will not take your money.”