It was getting late in the evening. The sun was low in the west and Laban was pulling his boat up on the trailer. He had been fishing all day and he was ready to pack up and get home. His client had already left and Laban had pocket a hefty tip for putting the man on some big fish. He put the bar in place holding his boat motor locked in position and pulled away from the ramp so the next person in line could back down. There was a parking lot up by the Forest Service campground and he parked to finish stowing his gear.
There were dozens of families camping in the area and Laban noticed a girl walk by, heading toward the lake. He had his rods locked in the storage compartment when he noticed a group of four men going past in the same direction the girl had gone. They all had on blue stocking caps and carried blue bandanas hanging out of their back pockets. Laban knew the type. They belonged to a local street gang called The Lobos. They hung out around the lake sometimes, usually starting trouble and intimidating the tourists.
He tried to avoid them whenever possible. They usually didn't mess with him. He looked a little intimidating himself. He was about six three and 240 pounds and none of it was fat belly. His mop of red hair and bushy red beard made him look mean, although he was a gentle man. He had played defensive end in college and six years in the NFL. He was never good enough to start but he was good enough to make teams. His lack of speed had hindered his football career and he retired with a fat bank account and while he was still healthy.
He tried mixed martial arts for three years and had won more fights than he lost, but he retired from that too. He discovered he just didn't like getting hit. Now he was a professional fisherman and guide on Lake Casitas near Los Angeles. He didn't need to work, but he enjoyed putting customers on big fish.
He fished his keys out of his pocket and opened the door of his truck. He heard loud voices from the direction of the beach. A girl was arguing with a man about something.
"Stop it," he heard her say. "I'm not bothering you. Leave me alone. I said stop it!" He heard a slap and a man's curses.
Reluctantly, he put his keys back in his pocket and walked toward the beach until he could see around the big rocks hiding the beach from his view. The gangbangers had surrounded the girl he had seen earlier and their hands were all over her. Laban didn't want to get involved but they were being very aggressive. He got his phone out of his pocket and called 911.
"Emergency services, how can I help you," he heard a woman's voice.
"Listen, I'm at the north boat ramp at Lake Casitas by Lakeview Marina. There's a young girl here and four members of the Lobos are molesting her. They're feeling her up and she doesn't want them to. I'm afraid it's going to get ugly."
"Sir, we have a car in the area and we're sending two more. What's your name?"
"Laban Sadler, and they're starting to get rough." The girl was shouting at the gang members now. "Can you hear that?"
"Yes I can. Laban, don't do anything. Wait for the officers to get there. We don't want you getting hurt."
One of the gangsters slapped the girl across the face and another grabbed her bikini top and was trying to rip it off.
"Shit," Laban said. "One of them just hit her and they're trying to rip her clothes off."
"Laban, just sit tight. The car will be there in three minutes."
"One of them just pulled a knife," he told the woman. "I don't think she's got three minutes. I'm going to leave the line open but I'm going to try to distract them. Tell your officers to get here now."
He heard her voice saying something but he wasn't listening. He put his phone on video mode and set it on the rock so it could record what was going to happen.
He walked closer. "What's happening, dudes?" he asked.
The men turned toward him. "You better keep walking, punk," one of them said. The girl tried to run and one of them grabbed her.
"Please," she wept, "They're hurting me. Help me!"
"She your girlfriend?" Laban asked.
"Yeah, that's right," a burly black man about twenty seemed to be their spokesman. "You better get your ginger ass on up out of here."
"I don't think she likes you," Laban said. "Maybe you boys ought to move on."
Two of them moved toward him. "We beat your ass if you don't get to stepping," the leader said.
"I don't think so," Laban said. "Have you ever noticed that there are some people you just shouldn't fuck with? I'm that guy. Let the girl go and I won't hurt you."
They all laughed. "Ain't but one motherfucker going to get hurt here," the one holding the girl sneered. "Kick his punk ass."
The two thugs advanced toward Laban and he circled a little, putting the one on the left in his buddy's way. When they came within range he kicked the nearest in the side of the knee. The knee gave way with a sickening crunch and the thug collapsed, screaming and writhing on the ground. The second threw a punch at Laban's face and he easily avoided it. He grabbed the extended arm and closed with his opponent. He locked his arms around the thug's back in a double under hook and smashed his forehead into the man's face. His nose crunched and blood spurted. Laban's huge arms flexed and he squeezed like a python. The thug began a high scream that was quickly cut off as the air was forced from his lungs. Laban heard ribs breaking and he threw the man to the ground. He was unconscious.
The remaining two stared at him. "You son-of-a-bitch; we going to kill you for that and then we going to have some fun with this bitch and kill her."
Laban knew he was in trouble if they had guns. They didn't seem to have any guns but they both drew knives as the leader pushed the girl into the water. She fell and cried out as she smashed against a rock. Her heard her arm break and the side of her face hit the rock. She lay there, stunned for a minute.
Laban knew he was in trouble. He was probably going to get hurt. If he made any mistakes, it might just turn out like they said it would. They fanned out, circling around him. One of them was holding his knife wrong but the other was clearly a knife fighter. Laban concentrated on the most dangerous. He moved toward the man and out of the range of the other. The man took a swipe at him with the knife. Laban couldn't avoid it, but the cut; aimed at his neck could be redirected and he struck the knife arm. The stroke went low and Laban felt it bite into his ribs. The blade struck bone and hung for a moment, just long enough for Laban's counterstrike. The heel of his right hand struck the thug just under his nose and crushed it upward. The nose exploded into a bloody mess and the man dropped the knife as the impact flung him through the air. His head struck a rock with a crack and Laban felt fire flood through his back as the second man buried his knife in Laban's back.
He felt almost paralyzed with pain, but he managed to spin, trapping the thug's arm under his left arm. He swept the man's legs with his right leg and dropped with him to the ground. He quickly secured an arm bar and tried to tear that arm off. The arm broke with a crunch and the elbow fractured. The thug went unconscious and Laban tried to sit up. He heard sirens screaming closer. He felt very weak. Someone was standing over him. An angel knelt down beside him, weeping, bleeding from a cut on the side of her head.
God, she was beautiful, Laban thought, but angels shouldn't bleed. He reached up to her with his hand and tangled his fingers in her long blonde hair. She sobbed and then screamed when she saw the blood running from his side. She looked up the bank and screamed at four figures Laban saw there.
"Over here," she screamed. "Please, help us! He saved my life and he's dying! Help us!"
Laban's vision drew down until he could only see the angel. His head throbbed and he knew no more.
He was very disoriented when he opened his eyes. He saw a small room with a curtain dividing it. He was lying in a bed, but it wasn't his bed. He saw medical equipment all around and he realized it was a hospital room.
"Hey, you're awake!" he heard an unfamiliar voice.
It took a huge effort to turn his head. He saw the form of a woman rising from a chair beside his bed. She moved to bend over him and her face came into focus.
"I remember you," he murmured. "You're the angel."
He heard her laugh and he slept again, secure in the knowledge that an angel was watching over him.
When he woke up again he remembered. He looked around and Gina was sitting in the chair. His sister noticed his eyes were open and she jumped up.
"Oh, my God, Laban; thank heaven you're awake."
He tried to speak but his throat was so dry that only a croak came out. He tried to swallow and it felt like his throat was full of sawdust.
"Drink," he croaked.
She held a straw up to his lips and he felt the cold ice water sooth his parched throat. She only gave him a sip. He took it gratefully and then relaxed his head back onto the pillow.
"Hey, Gina; where am I?" he asked.
"You're in intensive care in the hospital," she said. "Oh, my God, Laban; I thought you were going to die!"
"What happened to me?" he asked.
"Don't you remember? You saved a girl's life down at the lake. You nearly killed four gangbangers and you got stabbed in the side and in the kidney. They had to do emergency surgery. I'm sorry, Laban, but they had to remove that kidney. You only have one kidney now."
It came back to him. "Is the girl ok?"
"Yes, she has a broken arm and she had a concussion and some lacerations. She's here in the hospital. She's been coming in and sitting with you when Sherry or I can't be here. She's not supposed to be out of her room but she sneaks in here. She's sleeping now, but she'll probably be here as soon as she wakes up. Her father is with her and he wants to see you as soon as you're able to talk."
"I'm not able to talk. Jesus, Gina, don't let him come in here. I'm in ICU for God's sake. Only family is supposed to be in here. Keep him out. I don't want to talk to him."
"Why on earth not?" she asked. "The man wants to thank you for saving his daughter. You're a hero, Laban."
"That's what I thought. I don't want to be thanked. I'm not a hero. I would have just as soon walked away. I would have if I thought they weren't going to hurt her. I'm still not sure it was the right thing to do. What if she'd gotten hurt badly?"
"Bullshit," his sister said. "She told the police they told her they were going to rape her, kidnap her, addict her to drugs and turn her into their whore. You saved her life and her father is grateful. You can't avoid him forever, Laban."
"Maybe not, but I can sure as hell avoid him now. I can't talk to him now, Gina. I'm in pain and I just want to sleep."
"I'll call the nurse. She'll give you something for the pain. I'm sorry, Laban. I won't push you. I know you need to rest."
She pushed the button and the nurse came in. She injected something into his IV and he drifted off. When he woke up again it was night and there was only one light on. The angel was reading a book in the chair. He watched her for a while under his eyelids. She had a bandage on the side of her head and one arm was in a cast.
She was drop-dead gorgeous. She had very long blonde hair. It reached her knees as she sat in the chair. It was so light in color that it was almost white. Her eyes were spectacular. They were a deep cobalt blue and tilted up at the outside corners, giving her an exotic look. She had a little button nose with a dusting of freckles across it and lips in a wide mouth that looked like she had been stung by a bee. They were puffy, full and luscious. She had high cheekbones and a little pointy chin, giving her face a heart shape. Her hair was pushed back behind one tiny ear and her skin was tanned and smooth. Her pale little eyebrows were pulled together in a frown of concentration as she read her book. She looked young he thought, maybe about 18.
"What are you reading," he croaked.
She jumped up and her book fell to the floor, forgotten for the moment. She moved quickly beside him and gave him a drink.
"Thanks," he said. "How did you know I was thirsty?"
"Gina told me you were when you woke up before," she said.
Her voice was low and husky and Laban thought he would like to hear her sing. He could listen to her forever.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"It's Andrea," she told him. "My friends call me Andy. You can call me Andy."
"Are we friends?" he laughed. He winced from the movement.
Her eyes changed color and became almost gray. He discovered they did that when her mood changed. This was her look of concern.
"Are you hurting? I can call the nurse but she'll make me leave."
"No, I'm ok," he assured her. "I don't want you to leave."
She relaxed. "Then we are friends. You're my friend. I haven't done anything yet to make you my friend but I'm going to."
"How can I be your friend but you aren't mine yet?"
"Well, you almost died for me. That means you're my friend. I'll always love you for that. I don't want to embarrass you, but you're my hero. You might as well get used to it. I haven't done anything for you yet. I will as soon as I figure out what you need."
"Well, I need you to talk to me. What's your last name?" He asked.
"Are you Scandinavian?"
"Yes, my grandparents came here from Norway."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Andrea Nordstrom. I like Andrea better."
"We've already met. Well I've met you. You were busy dying at the time so you don't remember me. I'm so sorry, Laban," she began to cry. "They took out your kidney and you've got a big nasty gash on your side."
He reached out and stroked her arm. "It's not your fault, Andrea. You didn't stab me. You didn't cause any of this. Don't worry; I've a spare kidney. The other one was redundant anyway. Pull your chair over here by my bed and read to me. I'm getting very sleepy."
She picked up her book and dragged the chair close.
"What are we reading?" he asked.
"It's a book about money," she said. "It's called The Theory of Money and Credit by Ludwig von Mises."
"Are you a genius, Andrea?"
"Yes, do you mind?"
"Not at all, but why are we reading this?"
"I'm going to be an economist. I need to know these things."
"If you don't mind my asking a personal question, how old are you, Andrea? You don't have to tell me."
She laughed. "I know I look very young, but I'm 22. I'm a second semester junior at the University of California at Santa Barbara. You can ask me personal questions, Laban. I'll tell you anything. I know that you're thirty. I like older men," she smiled and dimples appeared on her cheeks.
"Ok, let's find out about money and credit," he laughed.
She read to him and he found the ideas in the book to be revolutionary and illuminating, but the sound of that husky little voice lulled him to sleep before she finished the second chapter.
When he woke up again, his sister Sherry was with him. She noticed his eyes were open and kissed him on the forehead.
"You gave us a big scare, dummy," she said. "I could never keep you out of fights."
"I know," he grinned ruefully. "It was the thing about the hair. I had to fight or be picked on by the bullies."
"I know, baby brother. You bit off a little more than you could chew this time. I'm glad you're ok. You're not in ICU anymore."
He looked around and he was in a new room. "How long are they going to keep me here?"
"I don't know. They said something about three weeks. Your wounds are still draining and I know they won't let you go until they take the drain tubes out. How are you feeling?"
"I'm sleepy all the time. Are they giving me drugs?"
"Yes, but I think they're going to stop the morphine and start you on oral drugs as soon as you feel well enough to eat. Are you hungry?"
"I thought you might be. We've got food. Shall I bring you some?"
"What do you have?"
"Don't tell the nurses, but we got takeout from Outback. We'll smuggle it in."
She left and in a few minutes, she came back. Gina and Andrea were with her and a tall, distinguished looking man with iron gray hair.
"Laban, this is my father, Clifton," Andrea introduced them.
He came and pressed Laban's hand. "I know you don't want to hear this, so I'm only going to say it once. Gina told us that you're uncomfortable with the whole 'hero' thing, but I'm a grateful man. I'll always be in your debt for saving my baby's life. If you ever need a friend, I'm your man. You don't know what that means yet, but you're going to find out that when Cliff Nordstrom is grateful, that means something."
"I just did what anyone would do under the circumstances," Laban said. "I'm not even sure it was the right thing. I was just afraid they were going to hurt Andrea."
"Dad's a career diplomat." Andrea told him. "He's the ambassador to the court of St. James."
"I have no idea what that means," Gina said, "but our food isn't getting any warmer."
"He's the ambassador to England," Laban said. "What did you get me?"
His sisters knew what he wanted. He had a rib eye, a baked potato and a Caesar salad. They all got out their dinners and Andrea fed him.
They talked over dinner and Laban discovered that Cliff was taking a leave of absence while Andrea was in the hospital. Her mother had passed away ten years earlier from a massive stroke and that he lived for his daughter. A nurse came in to bother Laban and she laughed when she saw what they were doing.
"I won't tell, but I think Laban shouldn't eat like this very often for a while," she said. "I don't think Andrea should be out of bed either."
"I agree," Cliff said. "I can't keep her there. Do you think it would be possible for them to share a room? That way she wouldn't sneak away every time your back is turned. I'll grease some wheels to make that happen."
"We have a policy against coed rooms," the nurse laughed. "I think we could move Laban to a double room with no roommate. If Andrea turned up there in that other bed, I don't think anyone would say anything if you talk to the supervisor and the doctors. They know what happened and they all can't wait to meet Laban. You've been in the news, Laban. There are dozens of reporters in the lobby waiting to talk to you."
"Don't let them up here," he begged. "I want some clothes too. Gina, can you or Sherry go by the house? I want t-shirts and shorts. Sweat pants would be good too. I need underwear and my shaving kit."
They promised to bring them the next day and the nurse shooed everyone out except Andrea. She changed his dressings and Andrea watched closely. She grew a little light headed when she saw his wounds but she wouldn't leave.
"I need to know how to do this," she said. "I'm going to take care of you when you get out of here."
Laban was somewhat shocked to learn that she intended to take him home with her.
"Andrea, you're got a broken arm and you're recovering from a concussion. I can't go home with you. You need someone to take care of you!"
"Nonsense," she said. "I could have gone home three days ago. I'm staying to be with you. I'm going to take care of you and I don't want to hear any more about it."
She read to him after the nurse left and he fell asleep with her voice sounding like music in his ears.
When he woke up he was in a different room and Andrea was asleep in the other bed. She was curled up in a little ball and her hair covered her slight form like a blanket. He sat up and a wave of vertigo swept over him. He held onto the bed rail until it passed. She heard him stirring and climbed out of bed. She had on blue pajamas with a Tweety Bird on her chest and right butt cheek. Her bandage was gone from her head and he caught the full effect of her beauty. She pushed him back down and washed his face with a cool washcloth.
"Sherry came by with some clothes," she said. "She was on her lunch hour and she had to get back to work."
"I see we've moved," he said.
"Yes, Daddy talked to the hospital administrator and he said no one would notice. The nurse said that you could put some clothes on and maybe walk around a little if I helped you. You need a bath first."
"Well, call her in and I'll get out of this awful gown," he said.
"No, she isn't coming."
"What do you mean?"
"I bribed her to let me give you a bath."
He laughed. "You rogue! I'm not going to let you give me a bath."
Her eyes twinkled, becoming almost violet. "There's no way you can stop me. You're too weak and I'm giving you a bath whether you like it or not."
She went into their bathroom and he heard water running. She came back with a basin filled with water, a bottle of soap and several washcloths and towels. He tried to sit up but she pushed him back and he discovered that he was too weak to resist, just as she said. He tried to clutch at his covers when she pulled them down.
"Laban, stop it," she told him. "You're being childish. I'm giving you a bath, I'm taking you home with me and I'm going to give you baths there too. I've seen you lying bloody on the ground, dying for me. I'm going to see you now and you might as well get used to me seeing you. Did you think I was kidding when I said I'm always going to love you? I'm going to love you every way possible. Now are you going to make this difficult for me?"
He was astonished. He had never met anyone like this enchanting little pixie. She loved him. That thought made his heart race. He surrendered. "Thanks, Andrea. I'll do whatever you want me to."
"No, don't ever thank me, Laban. That's the one thing I won't accept from you. I'd be whoring in some crack house except for you. You can't thank me. You can love me. That's all I want from you," her eyes filled with tears.
That broke his heart. "Don't cry, baby," he whispered. "Come here."
He hugged her to him and petted her. She looked up at him and her eyes were almost green pools as tears filled them. She was impossible to resist.
"Andrea, can I kiss you?" he asked.
"You can do anything with me," she whispered.
He tilted her chin up and tasted her lips for the first time. She tasted like cinnamon and fruit and those puffy lips came alive against his. He caught the lower lip gently between his teeth and it stretched and popped back as she drew away. She pulled the covers down to his waist and began to soap his chest and belly.
"God, you're big," she said. "I've never seen anyone with muscles like this. Well, maybe on TV or in a magazine. You're perfect, Laban."
He laughed. "Well, maybe except that I have two huge scars."
"You have them for me," she said quietly. "They're precious to me."
She lifted his arms and washed his upper body thoroughly. She got his shaving kit and scraped off the stubble and trimmed his beard and mustache. She discarded the hospital gown and wet a new washcloth. She left his covers around his waist as her hand slipped underneath with the cloth. The covers slid down and he was exposed. She slid her gaze downward and gasped. She continued to wash and the feeling of the rough cloth caused him to grow. She rinsed off the soap and continued down his legs, cleaning him to his feet. When she finished she dried him with a towel and moved to his growing excitement. She discarded the towel and grasped him in her hands. She stroked him fully erect and it was his turn to gasp.
Her hands looked tiny on him. Her fingers couldn't wrap all the way around. She got a bottle of baby oil and rubbed it between her hands for a moment before returning to his erection. She stroked him with the slippery oil and he groaned at the incredible sensation.
"God, baby; are you sure you want to do this?" he asked.
"Yes, I've never been surer of anything in my life. Am I doing it right?"
"You don't know?"
"No, I've never done it before. Jesus, you're big, Laban. That's a little frightening. I'm not very big, you know."
The thoughts that her remarks conjured up nearly drove him over the edge.
"You're incredible, Andrea. Don't stop."
The motion of her hands increased and she slid them up and down. She leaned down and he caught his breath in anticipation. She delayed the moment and he groaned and closed his eyes. He felt it, a feather light touch and he opened his eyes to see her little pointy tongue lick over the head of his member. She licked for a few moments and then her lips slid over the head and she took him in. The heat and moisture were incredible as she swirled her tongue just below the helmet.
He arched up and exploded. She faltered for a moment, then continued to bob her head, swallowing rapidly as her lips worked over the head, polishing it as he continued to spurt.
He began to relax and her motions slowed. She gave a final lick and suck. She allowed him to slip from her mouth and kissed her way up his body to his lips. They locked together for a long while. She pulled away and looked into his eyes with the midnight blue of her own.
"Did I do good?" she asked.
He sighed. "Baby, that was amazing! You're amazing. Why did you do that, Andrea?"
"Because I love you," she said. "Because I could and because I knew it would make you happy. I can't wait until you're well enough to do more."
"No, me either," he said. He crushed her against him, feeling her erect nipples through her pajamas. He winced in pain as her weight settled on him. She tried to draw back, but he held her too tightly.
"It's ok," he said. "It's worth it to feel you against me."
She helped him dress and took him for a walk. She pushed his IV pole and he moved gingerly down the hall and back. They sat in the waiting room and Cliff came in. He was joined by Gina and Sherry in a couple of minutes and they brought pastrami sandwiches from a deli. They sat together and watched a Dodgers game until visiting hours were over. When Cliff and the girls left, Andrea walked him back to their room.
"Andrea," he said. "Do you think you could lie in my bed for a little while?"
"I don't know, Laban. It's not very big. I'd love to sleep with you though."
"We'll just cuddle for a little while," he said. "I want to feel you up."
She laughed. "Well, how can I resist that?"
He got in and she spooned up against him, careful not to hurt him. He put her head on his arm and played with her hair. It was fascinating. He had never known anyone with hair so long and silky. He stroked her belly for a minute and then slid his hand under her pajama top. Her belly was ridged with muscle. She obviously worked out and her skin felt like satin. He slid his hand up, taking the hem of her shirt with it. His fingers felt the bottoms of the swells of her breasts. He cupped one in his palm and she gasped as his thumb scraped over her swollen nipple. Her breasts weren't large, but they were full and firm, nearly hard mounds of femininity. Her nipples were tiny hard nubs about the size of a pencil eraser and they sat on large areola that covered the tips of her breasts. He pinched them gently and rolled them between his thumb and forefinger, causing her to moan and push her butt back against him. He played for a few minutes and then slid his hand down over her belly and under the waistband of her pajamas. He felt lacy panties inside and slipped under them to find a small patch of soft curls inside. He lifted his hand away and stretched the fabric of her pajamas and panties away so he could look. She was a true blonde, the curls the same pale color as the hair on her head.
His hand traveled down and she raised her leg, putting it back over his; granting him access. She was wet and hot as he parted the slick lips and stroked her slit. He found the little nubbin of her clitoris and began to coax it out of its hood. She was moaning and writhing now, her excitement building as the unfamiliar sensations swept over her. He continued to tease the little button and she began to tremble and thrust toward his hand. Her muscles went rigid and he felt a flood of moisture as she exploded for him. She took the hand holding her breast and slipped one finger into her mouth as she thrust and shuddered against him. Her body relaxed and she quivered at his stroking and pushed his hand away.
"I can't stand any more, Laban. I'm too sensitive. God, the way you make me feel." She cried a little. "You're going to make me into an emotional wreck. I've never let a man touch me like that. I've never felt like that. I can't believe how good it felt."
She turned her face to him. She looked into his eyes. "I love you Laban. I know that sounds silly. I've only known you a couple of weeks and you were unconscious for most of that, but I know my mind. Do you love me? Just a little is all I need."
"I do love you, more than a little. I think you're perfect, Andrea. I think I'm falling in love with you. It might take a little longer, but I love everything I know about you. You're sweet, kind, loyal, smart, funny and sexy as hell. I think any man in the world would cut off his left nut to be with you."
She laughed. "I don't require left nuts; just left kidneys."
They laughed hysterically until a nurse looked in and frowned at them. Andrea hastily pulled her pajama top down. "We'll be quiet," she whispered.
The nurse smiled, nodded and went away.
"I'm going to get in my own bed now," she told him. "I'm going to sleep like a baby."
She kissed him and moved back to her own bed. She turned out the light and whispered goodnight.
He lay awake a while and thought about this amazing girl he had found. His surgery wound hurt like hell and he took a pill. In thirty minutes he felt better and he drifted off with the memory of a moaning angel in his arms.
Andrea was discharged the next day and he missed her dreadfully. She went back to school but she came and read to him at night. They finished the money book and started a novel about doomsday after an economic collapse in the US. He still tired quickly, but he was feeling much better. The doctors were encouraged with his healing rate and thought that in two more days the drain tubes could be removed.
He was becoming very impatient and he was a little crabby with Andrea the next night. She was very tolerant and when she got ready to go home, he apologized.
"You don't need to apologize to me, Laban," she told him. "I know your life has been disrupted and you're tired of being in pain and being in the hospital. I haven't forgotten why you're here. I know it must be hard for you and I'm not offended. How could I be? You can be grumpy with me. I love you and I don't mind. I may be a grouch to you someday."
That made him laugh and he squeezed her boob when she kissed him goodbye. "You really are an angel, Andrea. A sexy angel."
She laughed and slapped his hand away, giving her butt a naughty wiggle as she went out. He got the tubes out the next day and he was very disappointed when they told him he had to stay one more night. Andrea didn't come until after six because she had an event at school she had to go to. Cliff brought Italian food and both Gina and Sherry came. The nurses wouldn't let him get out of bed and some new stitches where the tubes had been were painful. They borrowed two chairs from other rooms and Andrea sat on his bed while they ate.
Cliff told Laban he had a surprise for him the next day. It turned out to be Andrea and a limousine picking him up from the hospital. They wheeled him out and Andrea carried his bag. The driver put it in the trunk and drove them to Lake Casitas where they had a picnic.
"Do you want to go down to the park where you were stabbed?" she asked.
"Maybe," he said. "Whatever happened to my truck and my boat? I never thought to ask."
"Dad and Gina picked them up the next day. You had a parking ticket, but they took it back when they found out what happened."
"I guess I'm lucky they didn't tow it," he said.
She laughed and they walked slowly down to the beach. He could see blood on the ground.
"What happened to those four thugs?" he asked.
"Well, they attacked a US Ambassador's daughter and stabbed a former NFL player who tried to help her," she said. "Two of them are in jail and two of them are still in the hospital. They'll all be charged with attempted rape and attempted murder. Three of them were carrying drugs. The FBI is investigating them for kidnapping, forcing girls into drug addiction and pimping them out. They found 14 girls that had been kidnapped and made to sell their bodies. Daddy is getting them into treatment and maybe they can survive what's happened to them. You did a good thing here, Laban. You helped a lot of girls besides me."
"Well, that's good, but that's not why I did it."
"I know, you did it for me."
"You're giving me way too much credit, Andrea. I didn't even know you. I saw you walk past my boat. No one deserves to be raped and assaulted."
"Yes, I know that too. But it was me, and it was you and that's what makes you what you are. That's what makes me love you. You won't walk away from someone when you know you're the only one that can help. You might have died here. If they had guns, we'd likely both be dead. You knew there were four of them and that you might get hurt. That's what a brave person is. He's afraid, but he does what has to be done anyway. That's what a hero is, and that's why you'll always be my hero."
He hugged her close. She saw that there were tears in his eyes and she pulled him down and kissed them away.
"Take me home," he told her. "I'm getting very tired and my back hurts."
She took his arm and when they got to the asphalt, he stopped. "Walk in front of me," he said.
"Why?" she asked.
He grinned, "I want to look at your butt."
She giggled and walked away, her hips tilting and her butt on display in an exaggerated runway walk in the tight jeans she was wearing. She giggled the whole way back and when the driver opened the door she helped him in. She turned away and looked back over her shoulder. "You can feel it if you want," she said.
He reached out and squeezed one firm cheek before she pulled away and got in on the other side. She scooted over next to him and he put his arm around her and leaned his head back on the seat. He slept during the drive and woke up when the car stopped.
"Where are we?' he asked.
"We're home, Laban. This is where I live. We're in Ojai."
"I didn't know you lived in Ojai. I just assumed it was Sana Barbara."
He looked out the window. "Jesus, Andrea; you live in a mansion."
"Yes," she said. "I know. Do you think you'll like living here?"
"I don't plan to live here," he said. "I just plan to stay a couple of weeks. I guess I would like living here though. I'd worry about getting lost."
"I'll get you a map," she said. "All you have to do is ring the bell and someone will come to your room and take you anywhere you want to go or bring you anything you want."
"I want a beautiful little blonde. Will they bring me one?"
She laughed. "I'll be right next door. You're staying in the blue room next door to me."
"Where is your dad's room?"
"He sleeps downstairs. We're upstairs."
"He's an extraordinarily trusting parent."
"Yes he is. I don't think this is a matter of trusting us though. I think he approves. I should tell you that he's probably vetted you. He knows everything about you and he likes what he knows. He's not snoopy, but he does care."
"Are you very close?"
"Yes, I trust him. I don't tell him everything, but I've always felt like I could."
"That's nice. I envy you."
"What about your parents, Laban? I know they're dead, but were you close?"
"I was close with Mom. I never had a relationship with my father. He was a mean son-of-a-bitch. I didn't see much of him. Mom had a restraining order on him. He beat her up twice: once while they were married. She divorced him and he came around and beat her up again. She pressed charges and got that order. I met him once for dinner and he started telling me how evil Mom was. I told him I was leaving and if I ever saw him again I was going to punch his face in. I was bigger than him by then and he didn't mess with me after that. He showed up on draft day when the Cardinals drafted me and I had security throw him out. He died in a wreck. Mom passed away from cancer when I was nineteen. Sherry took care of me and Gina."
They were walking in the garden, holding hands and talking when Cliff came out. Laban dropped her hand, felling a little guilty, and Cliff smiled.
"Don't be embarrassed," he said. "I know Andrea loves you and I'll only be mad if you let her down. I don't think you will. You're a remarkable young man, Laban. Please, hold her hand if you want to. Hug her or whatever. I really don't mind."
"Thanks," Laban took her hand again. "I've never met any of my girlfriend's fathers before. I'm not used to having a girlfriend so young."
"I know," he said. "I wouldn't ordinarily approve. You met under extraordinary circumstances. Those romances don't usually work out, but I know my daughter. Her mother was six years older than me. I think you're going to be just fine. You're looking a little pale, Laban. Are you ok?"
"I think I should lie down," he said. "I just didn't want to stop talking to Andrea."
"Yes, she's a stimulating auditor. I enjoy talking to her too. Take him to his bed, Andrea."
She took his arm and led him upstairs. The house was full of antiques and the bed in the blue room was a tall four-poster. Andrea got him a pair of shorts and an undershirt and helped him put them on. She got a footstool out from under the bed and he climbed in. She pulled up the covers and got him a bottle of water.
"There are seven bathrooms up here," she said. "None of them are connected to a bedroom but the nearest is two doors to the left when you come out. My bedroom is the first door to the right. There's another bathroom one door past my bedroom. If you're hungry, ring the bell. If you want me, text me."
He leaned back into the big fluffy pillows and closed his eyes.
"I'll be back in three hours if you haven't come down to change your bandages." She kissed his forehead and went out.
He slept until she came back and woke him up. "The doctor said you could take a shower if we put these plastic bandages on," she told him. "Do you want to shower?"
"Very much," he said.