Chapter 1

The clouds hung overhead ominously. I guess it was a typical autumn day in Toronto. The fall colours were out in full force with orange, red, brown and green hues displayed prominently all along the tree-lined streets. The weather didn't really dampen my spirit because I was on my way to meet some friends for supper.

I noticed the streets were almost deserted as I ambled along which was nothing unusual. Everyone in my neighbour was relatively old so I wasn't surprised that they were tucked away safely at home. I turned down the back-alley that was my normal shortcut to the subway station and was very surprised to hear a small voice call out, "Sir, sir, could you help me please?"

I turned around not really sure where the voice was coming from and then saw her off to the side of the alley looking down a grate. I walked over to her and asked, "Are you ok?"

She looked frustrated and replied, "I dropped my cell phone down that grate and I have no idea how to get it back."

I looked over at her and noticed that she was very pretty even with a cute frown on her face. She looked a little younger than me, I'd guess somewhere in her early 20's. Her hair was in a cute bob except for two long strands that followed the side of her face and came down past her chin. She was dressed in a pair of jeans and a black suede autumn jacket that was so popular these days with a brown handbag over her shoulder. She must've been travelling somewhere because there was a carry-on luggage bag standing next to her.

"Umm ... let me have a look" I said and leaned over to look down the grate as she stepped away from it. After staring down for a few seconds I said, "I think I see... " THWAACKK and felt a jarring hollow pain in the back of my head. I fell down onto the grate with a loud "Uunnghh!" I remember wondering as I fell, "Why the hell did she hit me?"

I landed dazed and confused but suddenly I heard footsteps and a scream so I turned my head towards the noise and saw two guys, one with a red jacket and a shorter one with blue jacket. The guy in the red jacket was trying to pull the lady's handbag from her hand. She was hanging on for dear life but the guy was a lot stronger than her. I jumped up a little groggy and without thinking, charged into the guy with the red jacket. He slammed onto the ground with me on top of him and the handbag went flying toward his friend who had been standing off to the side. Blue jacket snatched the bag up and ran off with both pieces of luggage leaving his friend behind. The lady started chasing and screaming at him. I shouted for her to wait because I didn't want anything to happen to her but she kept running. I figured that I'd better go after her in case the guy decided to turn back and then she'd be in trouble. At the end of the alley, she gave up running because the guy was nowhere in sight. I turned around to find that the other guy had gotten onto his feet and was running the other direction. There was no way we'd be able to catch either of them now.

I walked up to the lady and asked her if she was ok. She just nodded with tears in her eyes. I told her that I should call the police and pulled out my cell phone to make the call. I needn't have bothered because all the commotion had attracted the attention of the neighbourhood and I guess someone had already dialled 911 because I heard a siren coming in our direction. I must have run out of adrenaline at this time because I felt all my energy leaving me and I dropped down wearily onto the sidewalk.

"Oh my god, you're hurt! Are you ok!?" she cried as she saw me sitting and rubbing the back of my head.

"I'm ok, I'm ok. What the heck did he hit me with?"

"I'm not sure, I think he had a club of some sort, it all happened so fast. I think they were hiding behind that wall over there. That's why we didn't see them coming"

She moved behind me and gently moved my hand away to check the sizable bump on the back of my head.

"I think we should get a doctor to look at this." She said.

"How does it look?"

"Umm ... it's a pretty big bump but I don't see any blood. I'm really sorry about all of this, if you hadn't tried to help me you wouldn't have gotten hurt."

"It's not your fault. I'm just sorry they were able to get away with it and you lost your stuff as well."

She sighed, "I had everything in there. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now."

Before I could say anything else to her, a cop car pulled up in the alley and two officers got out. The older of the two walked towards us and said,

"Hi there, I'm Sergeant Willis. We received a call that there was screaming coming from this alley and there was a mugging taking place. Are the two of you ok?"

"I'm ok," I replied "I just got hit on the back of my head."

He approached me and looked at the bump on my head.

"It looks ok just a little swollen, are you dizzy or anything?" He asked.

"No, it hurts but I don't feel dizzy" I replied.

"Ok, but I think you should go to the hospital anyway to check it out just to be safe. St Mike's is pretty close by and they have a good emergency room. I'll take you there when we're done. Now, can you describe what happened here?"

I looked at the lady and said, "I think she can tell you more than me but I'll try to fill in if I can."

Sergeant Willis looked at us and nodded, "Would you mind if I got your names before we continue?"

"I'm Emily Davis"

"I'm Nathan Bradley"

"Ok Miss Davis, please could you describe what happened?"

"Well, I was walking down this alley with my luggage when my cell phone started ringing. I pulled it out of my pocket and tried to answer it when I tripped and it slipped out of my hand and bounced into that grate over there. I was there for a few minutes staring into the grate and wondering how I was going to get my phone back when I saw..."

She looked at me obviously trying to remember my name,

"Nathan" I prompted, smiling at her.

" ... Nathan come into the alley and asked him if he could help me retrieve my phone. He came over to the grate and looked down. Suddenly two guys appeared from behind us and one of them hit Nathan on the back of his head with something that looked like a club. I don't know how they managed to sneak up on us like that but I think they were hiding behind that wall. Nathan fell down onto the grate and I started screaming when they came towards me. The taller guy tried to grab my handbag but I wouldn't let go. Out of nowhere I saw Nathan flying into the guy who was trying to grab my bag and they both went down on top of each other. My handbag flew towards his friend who snatched it up and ran off in that direction with my luggage as well. I chased after him because I didn't want to lose my belongings, but he was much faster than me and I lost him at the end of the alley. I think I heard Nathan calling me but I continued chasing the guy until I realised there was no way I would catch him. When I stopped and turned around, I saw Nathan running towards me and the other guy had gotten up and ran off in that direction down the alley. It all happened so fast, I was so confused that I didn't really register what was going on."

Sergeant Willis looked at me, "Is that how you remember it?" he asked.

"Pretty much. I can't think of anything else to add" I replied, still rubbing the back of my head.

"Do you remember what they looked like?"

"Hmm ... all I remember was that they were both white males, quite young, about twenty and the taller one was about six feet wearing a red jacket while the shorter one was about five foot seven wearing a blue jacket."

"The taller one had dirty-blonde floppy hair and the shorter one had very short dark hair with a lot of stubble." Emily added.

"Is there anything else that you can remember about them?"

We looked at each other trying to remember and both shook our heads. Sergeant Willis excused himself and walked over to the younger officer with the descriptions that we had provided. While the younger officer reported the incident, he came over to us and said,

"What items did they take from you?"

She sighed, "Everything I had, my money, my wallet, all my identification, my clothes, everything."

"I'm sorry Miss Davis." He looked at me, "and you Mr Bradley? Did they take anything of yours?"

"No, I don't think so." I patted my pockets and checked, "No, everything is here."

"Ok, well, I'm going to need your details so we can contact you later on if anything comes up."

I gave him my address and telephone number after which he turned to Emily expectantly.

She shuffled a little and said, "I don't have an address yet, I just arrived in Toronto and was looking for a place to stay."

"Do you have any family or friends here that you can stay with in the meantime?"

"No, no family or friends, I was on my way for an interview with a lady about a rental apartment when everything happened."

"Hmmm ... so nothing at all huh? That will be a problem. Where are you from?"

"Victoria Island, I was meant to move here with a friend but he decided that he didn't want to come at the last moment so I came alone."

"Do you plan on going back considering what happened?"

"No!" She said quickly, and then continued, "I never want to go back there."

I wondered what could make her feel that way.

Sergeant Willis asked, "Well, let's see if we can get your phone back and then decide what to do with you."

After fifteen minutes of fiddling with the grate, we managed to open it and recover her cell phone. Fortunately it still worked even if the cover was a little banged up. I handed the phone back to Emily and she took it from me then suddenly broke down and started crying which was understandable considering everything that just happened to her. I tried to comfort her, rubbing her shoulder and said, "Don't worry, maybe we can figure something out."

She sniffed and said, "Thank you"

Sergeant Willis then said, "Ok, let's get you to the hospital and get your head checked. Miss Davis, did you want us to drop you off anywhere?"

She looked and me and then at Sergeant Willis and replied, "Do you mind if I go with you to the hospital? It was my fault Nathan was attacked so I'd like to stay with him."

Sergeant Willis asked, "Is that ok with you Mr Bradley?"

My heart went out to Emily, "Are you sure? I mean, it wasn't your fault and I don't want to put you out." I asked, even though inside I wanted her to come with me.

"Of course, it's the least I could do for you." She replied.

"Ok, hop in to the back seat" said Sergeant Willis as he held the door for us.

We arrived at St Mikes after a short drive. On the way I kept wondering about the beautiful lady sitting next to me.

Sergeant Willis helped me register with the hospital and led us to the waiting room. I thanked him for all his help and he smiled and said,

"I was just doing my job. We'll do everything we can do get your possessions back Miss Davis." After a pause, he asked, "Would you mind if I spoke to you privately?"

He led Emily across the room to discuss something while I pulled my phone out and called my friend but it went straight to her voicemail. I left her a message telling her that I wouldn't be able to make for supper and that I would explain what happened later on.

Sergeant Willis and Emily spoke for a few more minutes. I couldn't hear what they were talking about but she looked a little upset.

They came back after they were done and Sergeant Willis said,

"You two take care now. I have to get back to the precinct to take care of some work. I have both your phone numbers so I'll contact you as soon as we find anything."

We both thanked him again and exchanged good-byes. After watching him leave, we looked at each other a little uncomfortably and sat down next to each other.

"umm ... Hi, I'm Nathan" I said, breaking the silence.

She giggled, "Hi, I'm Emily"

"Thank you for staying with me, but you really don't need to, I understand if you have somewhere else to go." (What was I thinking?)

"No, no. It's no bother and it's the least I can do. Anyway, it's not like I have anywhere I could go" She said.

I smiled at her. Everytime I looked at her there was something more about her that I liked.

"I think you should call the bank and cancel your cards. Here use my phone; yours is probably long distance and I have free weekends and evenings." I said handing her my cell phone (practical as always).

"Thanks Nathan." She said accepting the phone from me. I helped her find the phone number for her bank using the browser on my phone and she spent the next 30 minutes cancelling her credit and debit cards.

I took the opportunity to admire her while she was on the phone. Her eyes were a little red and puffy from crying so much but she looked like an angel. Her perfect skin and stylish hairstyle suggested that she could afford to take care of herself. I found myself wondering more and more about this lovely woman and what would've brought her out here by herself.

She noticed me watching and smiled shyly but continued with her call. She finally finished, ended the call and returned my phone.

"Thanks Nathan."

"Everything ok?" I asked.

"Yes, they managed to cancel my bank cards but I have to go into the bank to get new ones since I don't have an address here."

"How are you feeling? You must've been pretty shook up from what happened."

"I'm ok now thanks but I was terrified back there, nothing like that has ever happened to me before."

"Me either, I'm just glad that you're ok."

"I know this sounds bad but I was glad that you were there to help me." She said seriously.

I laughed, "A lot of help I was, they ran off with all your stuff."

"It doesn't matter, it would've been so much worse if I was alone there. And you tried to help me when he tried to grab my bag." she sighed, "I don't know what I'm going to do now. They took everything of mine."

I looked around the waiting room. There were a lot of empty seats but still enough that I knew we'd be there for a few hours. Hospital rooms are always so depressing, but I was glad that Emily was there to keep me company.

Then, without thinking I said, "Hey, listen, do you need a place to stay?"

"Do you know somewhere or someone?"

"Well, I have an extra room in my condo that I don't use and if you really need a place to stay..."

She looked shocked, "Oh my God, I couldn't do that, look how much trouble I've caused you already!"

"Don't think that. None of it was your fault and to be honest, this was the most entertainment I've had in ages."

"You don't know anything about me, I could be a psycho killer or something worse, not that I know what could be worse."

"That's true but you don't act like one to me and you look like you could use the help and I'm a sucker for pretty girls in need? Look where it got me." I smiled as I waved my hand indicating the hospital,

"You don't have to answer right now, think about it first."

We sat quietly together for a few minutes when my stomach decided it was hungry and growled. She must've been feeling the same way because her stomach followed mine.

We looked at each other and burst out laughing which of course sent the pain up my head again. She saw me gasping, put her hand on my arm and asked, "Are you ok?"

"Don't worry, it only hurts when I laugh." I said trying to be funny.

She smiled at my attempt but didn't remove her hand from my arm.

"Mr Bradley!" we heard, causing us to jump up as though we were caught doing something we shouldn't have.

"Here!" I said thinking that this had to some sort of record for the shortest wait at St Mikes.

"Follow me please." Said the nurse who had appeared out of the emergency room and held the door waiting for me.

Emily stood there unsure of what to do next.

"Come with me." I said reaching for her hand.

She took my hand in hers and followed me through the doors.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Romantic / Slow /