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By:Terry Bolryder

other one leapt onto his back, attempting to wrestle the huge, muscular rescuer to the ground.

On the one hand, the rich jerk seemed to have almost superhuman strength. But on the other, it seemed pretty clear by his lack of awareness that he probably didn’t get in fights like this very often.

Either way, Kelsey just prayed nothing would happen to him.

With a grunt and a heave, the stranger grabbed his assailant from behind by the collar of his heavy jacket and heaved him bodily overhead, slamming him into the ground, sending water splashing high into the air and making the pavement beneath her rumble.

This time the now-soaked stranger spun around just as two more approached from behind. Both men stepped back reflexively, as his silver eyes seemed to almost glow with ferocious rage.

“Dirty humans. Can’t even fight fair, can you,” Kelsey thought she heard the stranger mutter.

Both men just glanced at each other in confusion, then one reached into his back pocket and brandished a sizable knife, the blade clicking open and gleaming steel in the glittering raindrops.

The stranger didn’t back down, though. Instead, his eyes slitted, as if in disgust.

With complete confidence, he strode forward, and the man raised his knife defensively. The stranger swatted it away without a second thought, and Kelsey heard the blade clatter into some hidden corner far down the alley.

In utter shock, the man looked down at his hand where the knife had been, then up just in time to see the stranger smack him with the back of his hand, so hard the guy was sent reeling to into the side of a large green dumpster, making a metallic groan from the force of it.

As the last guy pondered whether he should run from or charge her mysterious knight in shining armor, Kelsey glanced behind her to see the man still holding her, slack jawed as he watched agape in horror.

This was her chance.

Summoning her strength, she shoved her elbow into his side just as she brought her right foot up and drove it down into the man’s toes. He immediately yelped, and his grip on her slackened just enough for Kelsey to free herself.

She turned and made a run for it, heading for the end of the alley, but the guy recovered quickly, turning on his heel and going after her.

“Hey, come back here, you.” She could hear his voice, harried and angry, right behind her.

Kelsey turned around, the man only a few feet away, just in time to see him plucked away like a chicken fleeing a fox.

“Not so fast,” the stranger growled, and Kelsey wasn’t sure if he was addressing her or the man he now held above the ground in one hand. The thug flailed wildly, and for a moment, the stranger seemed to consider his prey, right before throwing him backward toward the exit of the dank street like so much garbage. He rolled several times, then came to a stop with a loud, “Oof.”

Her rescuer dusted off his hands, and Kelsey noticed his shirt was torn in several places and his slacks were covered in mud, but he seemed otherwise unharmed by the whole thing.

“Are you all right?” he asked, sounding more annoyed than caring at the moment.

Kelsey opened her mouth to respond, on edge and out of breath, the empty pit in her stomach screaming for food, when she saw a dark object behind her rescuer, something raised high over his head

“Look out!” she shouted as she saw a huge gray cinderblock come smashing down. She heard a loud cracking sound as cement and rubble exploded everywhere, and she made out the shape of the leader behind the stranger, his face bloodied, his eyes burning with revenge.

But to Kelsey’s shock, the stranger whirled around like a bolt of lightning, catching the guy in the jaw so hard she could swear she heard bone break and sending him flying backward and into two of his cohorts who were busy trying to drag one of the limp shapes of their friends out and away from the alley.

The two of them got back up to their feet quickly, and they and another hurriedly dragged the others away, fleeing for dear life as they groaned in pain.

The danger gone, Kelsey felt herself pulled toward the strange man that had just as quickly thrown her out into the street as he had come to save her.

His shirt was covered in specks of cement, and around them the rain slowed to a light drizzle, then stillness as the alley became quiet.

It wasn’t until she reached his side, looking up at him, that she saw blood streaming down one side of his face, the trail disappearing somewhere in his thick, now-matted hair.

“Hey, are you okay?” she asked, alarmed.

“I’m fine,” he muttered, his speech slurred. But it was clear by the slight sway in his body that he wasn’t.

It made sense, though. People didn’t normally take a cinderblock to the head and walk away from it as though nothing happened.

Frankly, she was shocked he was still standing.

“Come on. We need to get you help,” she said, grabbing his arm. He pushed her away lightly, insisting again there was nothing wrong.

He tried to walk for the exit of the alley, but he stumbled two steps in, almost losing his footing.

“Damn cheap humans. Always causing trouble,” he mumbled, his words almost unintelligible now. He tried to take one more step, then pitched forward like a diver off a cliff, face first into the ground with a muddy splash.


Kelsey stared down at her unconscious rescuer, face down in the mud, designer clothes ruined, hair matted and dark.

Why had he even come for her? Why would he go so far? She’d seen the disgust in his face.

Her whole life, she’d seen indifference and meanness in people’s eyes, but he’d shown a different level of hate, at least at first.

But he’d come down here for her. Fought to his limit for her. Gotten himself knocked out for her.

So she couldn’t just leave him in the dirt. Even though her stomach was aching from hunger and she was tired from lack of sleep and she just wanted to get ou