Page 4 of Judge

I thought I dreamed it when I woke up the next morning, but the bruise was there on my arm as evidence. That hadn’t been the worst of it. I could have sworn I heard him with another woman that night having sex, but he was calling her by my name. I keep telling myself maybe she just had the same name as me, but my gut is telling me otherwise.

“Time to go,” Harry tells me as he comes around the corner. His eyes rake over me slowly and I feel a fear stirring in my gut.


He’s right. It is time to go.

Chapter One

Nora

A few weeks later…

I let the warm water run down my body as I try to get the chill that’s settled into my bones to go away. Even with the cold weather, this has been the best I’ve felt in days. It’s a moment of safety where I know I’m alone and can let my guard down. I know I need to get going or I’ll get caught and lose my favorite part of the day. Okay, my second-favorite part of the day.

The first is seeing the mystery man who comes in here not long after I leave. I’ve taken up residence across the street on the bench wondering the same thing for the last two weeks. What the hell am I going to do? Freedom isn’t as wonderful as I thought it was going to be.

I knew I lived a sheltered life and have had everything handed to me. At least the basic things like food, a place to rest my head at night, clothes to wear, and a place to shower. You never notice the small things around you that you rely on until they’re gone. But even now it’s worth the price I’ve paid.

A shiver runs down my spine when I think about the night I finally made a run for it. I can still feel his hands grabbing me, trying to press his mouth against mine as I’d fought him off. I’d gotten lucky because I was no match for his strength. He’s a small man, but I’m even smaller. The only reason I got away is because his phone went off. It was the one he used for his exclusive clients. He was at their beck and call night and day. He told me he’d be back and that I needed to get it together. That I had to accept what was to come and I should make it easier on myself.

I knew that I would never give in to what he wanted and I packed a bag and ran. I’m still running, though I’m not sure I can call it running if I’m not going anywhere. I’m still in the same city because I have no place to go. I reached out to the one person I thought was supposed to help and that didn’t work. I still can’t believe Harry told the man who oversees the stipulations of my father’s will that I’d been acting out. He said I’d been stealing and then throwing myself at him a few times to try and cause a scandal. He claimed I attacked him when he denied my advances and showed him the marks.

Those were the marks I’d left on him when I was trying to fight him off. My uncle even went as far as making a report of the attack to the police and listed items he claimed I’d taken from him. Not only is he looking for me, but the police are, too. I’ve been advised that if I go home Harry will drop the charges and he’ll get me the “help I need.” I hung up the phone.

He made sure it wouldn’t be easy for me to get away from him. What I once thought was him being overprotective is clearly something else. I don’t have a dime to my name at this point, and I know I’ve got money. I’m a rich homeless person and the thought is almost laughable.

I’m scared to apply for a job because I’m afraid they’ll do some kind of background check. What if it alerts the police to where I am? I have no idea what to do or where to go. I’ll likely spend another day sitting on this bench watching people walk by. Waiting for him to pass by. Maybe today I will follow him when he leaves. The dark-haired man in the suit carries himself without a care in the world. He looks untouchable.

I watch as people step out of his way because they can feel the power like I do. I should be running, but each day I watch him enter into the gym right after I sneak out.

I’d lucked out on my third day on the streets alone. I was walking past the gym and he caught my attention. He dropped his key and if I hadn’t been watching him, I would have missed it. He went to put it into his pocket after he scanned himself in, but he misjudged and it fell on the ground. He didn’t catch it because his cell phone was pressed to his ear as he entered the building. When I picked it up, I ran over to tell him, but he slipped inside before I could stop him. I’d picked up the key and knew I’d found my safe haven. For now at least. I’ll use this place for as long as I can. I’ve slept here a few times, but I’m always scared I won’t wake up in time to leave and get caught. Sleep isn’t a luxury I can afford, and right now I want to slide down the wall and drift off for days, but I can’t.

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