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By:Terry Bolryder

the group, but they closed and one of them shoved her roughly, causing her to land on her butt on the damp ground.

“I don’t want any trouble,” she said, putting up both hands, wondering if she screamed, if anyone would hear her or care. Hysteria rose in her, mixing with fear, but she knew from experience that no one would come when she was in trouble. That the only one she could depend on was herself.

“What’s going on here?” A sharp, arrogant voice echoed from behind the men, and she looked up to see them turn around as a man walked into their midst.

They stepped back from her to greet him, and she saw the shock and confusion on all their faces as the douche from before, the one with flashing silver eyes, walked into the center of the alley, unaware or uncaring of the amount or type of men surrounding him.

His hands were in the pockets of his fancy gray dress slacks. He wore designer shoes that were surely being ruined by the mud, and he had on a tailored light-blue shirt that shone in the lamplight. He turned up the cuffs and addressed the men around him.

“I asked what was going on here. I demand someone answer.”

He was taller than she’d originally thought, at least a few inches over six feet, and significantly muscled, though in an elegant way that seemed sculpted more for looks than the raw strength needed on the street, which the men around her possessed.

“You demand?” The leader, a man with dark, stringy hair and a large, stocky build, looked at the newcomer with a sneer. “Go back to your penthouse, pansy.”

“Pansy?” The man with silver eyes raised a dark brow, and she realized belatedly that he was almost painfully handsome. The type of man that drew women like a magnet. She’d overlooked it earlier because her need for shelter and warmth had been her full focus, but watching him now, her only hope for escape, she couldn’t avoid it.

The man was beautiful.

“Pansy,” the leader said, folding his bulky arms. “Prick. Get out of here. We found her first.”

Beautiful douchebag, as she’d named him, curled up his lips in a sneer. “Found her? For what purpose?”

The leader let out a loud, mean laugh, and his friends snickered with him. “What do you think?” He made a crude gesture, and she saw her potential rescuer’s expression darken.

“How dare you?” he said. “What a new low for disgusting behavior, and I assure you my expectations for humanity are already exceedingly depressed.”

The men stared at him, as if unsure what to make of his odd, formal speech.

The man sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. His eyes darted to her with an unreadable expression, and then he turned to face the leader. “Nonetheless, I don’t wish to hurt anyone. So if you and your men would simply leave immediately, I am willing to let you go. But you must go quickly.”

Her jaw dropped.

Were rich people this unaware of the world? She didn’t care how big his ego was. It would be six on one, and despite his fit build, he had zero chance of making it out of a street fight with even one of them, most likely.

What on earth gave him such confidence?

The men around him laughed nervously, as if unsure whether or not he was insane.

“You’re the one who should go if you want to avoid trouble,” the leader said, and Kelsey watched the newcomer, praying he didn’t just turn around and leave her.

She expected him to, given the way he’d looked at her before.

His eyes settled on her, and he let out a wary sigh, as if hating himself silently for the situation he was in. He folded his arms more tightly.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“Fine,” the leader said. “Suits me fine.” He rolled his shoulders. “I’ll beat the shit out of his prick and take his stuff. It’ll be good foreplay.” He nodded to Kelsey. “Someone hold her so she doesn’t make a run for it.”

He circled her defender and his men joined him, except for one, who walked to her and grabbed her by the arms, jerking them behind her back.

“Stop it,” she said. “Let him go. Come on. This isn’t fair, six on one. I’ll do what you want. Let him go.” Panic rushed through her. She’d seen mean things on the streets. This guy had no idea what he’d gotten himself into.

She hadn’t wanted him to run, but now, seeing the sheer numbers and size against him, she wished he had.

The leader only gave her a glance before shaking his head. “Shut up, bitch. We’ll deal with you next.”

The stranger’s silver eyes flashed just before a fist shot out and connected with the leader’s face with a loud crack that echoed through the alley.

The leader staggered back, dazed, but the stranger darted forward, following up with a sharp hit with his other fist, crushing it into the other side of the leader’s face.

Kelsey heard the impact as much as she saw it, and his feet practically lifted off the ground as her rescuer sent the man flying backward to collide with a small group of trashcans that had been huddled next to a brick wall, minding their own business. The cans made a symphony of clanging as the lids careened in every direction.

“Burt!” the man that was holding Kelsey called out in shock.

The stranger whipped around, his dark hair flicking tiny beads of raindrops to the side as his quickly dampening shirt began to better reveal the incredible, bulging muscle beneath his shirt.

“You,” he said, pointing at the man behind her. “Unhand the woman now,” he commanded, though Kelsey couldn’t help but feel a little off-kilter at the strange way he had of talking at times.

Kelsey felt the man behind her freeze as the stranger strode in their direction. But he wasn’t paying attention to the fact that the other men around him were now springing into action. She tried to call out to warn him, but she wasn’t fast enough, and she saw a dull, rusted pipe slash through the air and catch the man in the shoulder with a loud thud.

The man with the silver eyes cursed, then whirled around, catching his attacker in the gut just as an