“I’m the manager in this hotel.” He sneered at her, his face turned into a hateful mass of lines that froze her in place. “You can scream, but there’s nothing they’re going to do for you, Vicky.”
“I suggest you do as the lady asks,” Eric said making Victoria glance up to find him standing a few feet away. “I don’t care who you are. If you don’t let go of her, I’m going to break your fingers.”
“This is none of your business,” Ronald said still holding on to her arm. “Why don’t you walk away?”
Afraid the scene would escalate, Victoria stepped into Ronald’s personal space. Surprised by her abrupt move, Ronald didn’t get time to react when she stabbed the tip of her right heel into his toes. She used all the force she could master, digging her heel into the expensive leather.
He howled and let go of her arm. She jumped away from him and Eric tugged her out of Ronald’s reach. She was pleasantly surprised when Eric used his own body to shield her in case Ronald retaliated. Eric took her right arm and studied her skin searching for bruises.
“Are you okay?” Eric asked meeting her gaze with concerned eyes.
“I’m fine,” she said giving him a small smile. “I’m not sure Ronald is though.”
“You did good,” he said stroking his thumb over her arm. “Just stay here for a moment, okay?”
She nodded and he smiled. “Good.”
Eric turned to Ronald and in a split second, he had Ronald pressed against the wall. She gasped as Eric tugged Ronald’s tie, tying it around his fist and pulling it until it was choking Ronald.
“I hate men who treat women like you do,” Eric said with disgust. “You listen to me, if Victoria ever complains about you again, even if it’s because of a paper cut, I’m going to find you and you won’t like what happens. Do you understand?”
Ronald choked and nodded his head.
“I didn’t hear you,” Eric hissed in anger.
“I u-understand,” Ronald managed.
Eric tightened his hold on the tie for a second then let go. Ronald collapsed against the wall gulping in air with deep heaves, as he tugged at his tie to release his neck.
“You-, get out of this hotel-, you-”
“Remember what I said,” Eric warned, pointing a finger at him. He turned away from a wheezing Ronald and smiled at her. “Come on, Victoria. I’ll get you home.”
She allowed Eric to lead her away from the alcove and they headed to the stairs. She was conscious of Eric’s hand on her left elbow as they went down the stairs. Once they got to the lobby, she stopped and turned to him.
“I’m fine now,” she said pointing in the direction of the ballroom. “You should go back.”
“Will you stop chasing me away,” Eric said glaring at her. “I just choked a guy for you.”
“I didn’t ask you to do that,” she said glaring at him. “You did that all on your own. Thank you for helping me. Now, go back to the wedding party.”
“I don’t want to be at the wedding party,” Eric said with a stubborn tone. He took her elbow and led her toward the front door. “I promised Olive I’d get you home. That’s what I’m going to do, even if I have to carry you to the car. Cooperate, Victoria.”
She chuckled as the front doors slid open and they stepped out into the cool night air. When they got to his black Jeep, he opened the passenger door for her and waited until she settled to close the door.
When he slid into the driver’s seat, she asked, “Why did you follow me?”
“You’re my date,” he said, starting the car. “How could I let some weird guy steal you away without a fight?”
She smiled at him. “You didn’t have to follow me, you know.”
Eric spared her a glance before he asked. “Is that guy the reason you were crying that day we bumped into each other?”
Her smile faded away as fast as it had come. Remembering that day, all the reasons why she now hated Ronald Mutoko returned and she was suddenly glad that Eric had threatened him. She looked out the window at the city lights, and the vehicles passing them.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she murmured.
“He hurt you,” Eric said quietly. “It matters.”
“Not if I don’t want it to matter,” she replied firmly. “I don’t want to dwell on that guy anymore. You have no idea what it has been like since I found out what he did. I don’t want to think about him.”
“Fine,” Eric said.
When she turned to look at him, he looked away.
“I won’t ask again, as long as you admit something,” he said.
“You thought I was pretty cool back there.”
She scoffed. “Please, I had already rescued myself. You were just trying to be macho man.”
“Come on, I was the warrior with his spear defending his woman. You were impressed.”
“Warrior with his spear?” Victoria laughed. “What do you think this is? A movie?”
“Hello, I’m sure my grandfather was the clan chief in the past. I’d have been the one leading battles against the wild animals in the village. I won the fight today, so that means you’re my reward. Haven’t you watched 10,000 B.C.?”
“You really are insane,” Victoria said with amusement. “I’m not a thing to be won.”
“No, you’re not,” Eric said quietly as he sped up the hill on Valley Road. “I’m hoping you won’t have trouble with that Ronald. I need you to promise that you’ll call me if you do, Victoria.”
She dropped her gaze. “He won’t bother with me anymore.”
“Promise anyway,” Eric insisted as he joined Argwings Kodhek road. “It will make me feel better.”
“Fine, I promise,” she said, welcoming the warmth that flooded her at the thought of having someone other than her big brother to call on for help. She concentrated on giving him directions to her apartment building, which was off Argwings Kodhek in Hurlingham. When he found her residential street and turned on to it, he slowed down.
“This is very close to the shopping center. Maybe you can come visit my studio tomorrow.”
“It’s Sunday,” she said with a sigh. “My brother is picking me up. We’re going to visit our parents in Kinoo.”
“Are you going to be there all day?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said with a sigh. “Things just end up going nuts on days like tomorrow. It will depend with what’s happening.”
“Oh,” Eric said in disappointment. He stopped the car before the black gates outside her apartment building. “So, when will I see you again?”
She looked at him. “Do you want to see me again?”
“Give me your phone,” he said holding out his hand.
She got the phone from her purse and handed it over. She watched him type in his number and save it. He called his number and handed her phone back when his rang.
“Come see my studio on Monday,” he said when she put her phone away.
“After work,” he said when she started to protest.
“I might work late,” she said with a frown.
“Come on, make time” he cajoled. “I’ll even feed you.”
She reached for the door handle. “I’ll think about it.”
“Just think about it?” he asked when she opened the door.
“A lot, I’ll think about it a lot,” she said with a small grin.
When she started to get out, he placed a hand on her right hand to stop her.
“Victoria,” he said.
She turned to look at him and he smiled. “Thank you for being my date today.”
Before she could answer, he leaned over and pressed a kiss on her cheek.
“Sleep well,” he murmured.
“Good night,” she managed and slid out of the car.
She closed the passenger door, waved at him and waited for him to drive away. He didn’t.
“Go on in,” he said leaning out the window.
She frowned but did as he asked. Greeting the guard on the other side, she closed the gate and grinned when she heard Eric honk once and drive off.
To be continued……Thank you for reading, “_”