Reuben & Akari

Chapter One

Reuben had just graduated from the police academy and moved into his new apartment in Charlotte NC. He went to school in Raleigh but the nearest police force that had an open position was in Charlotte. Swan Run Apartments was a small complex, only had a first and second floor. Reuben chose the first floor so his German Shepard Inca could run around to her hearts content. He would rather have a house but just starting out in the police force so he didn’t make enough money yet.

He was proud to be an officer and knew in a few years he would make enough for a house. His father and grandfather had both been police officers so when he graduated it had been a proud moment for them both. He could have sworn he saw his grandfather tear up but of course Vincent denied he had shed a single tear. As a graduation gift his parents and grandparents had each given him 2,000 dollars to help him buy furniture. Reuben felt like 4,000 was alot until he saw the prices of beds, couchs and tables.

Thankfully his mother had two dinner sets so he already had plates, cups and silverwear. She also gave him a few appliances that Reubens father Patrick promised to replace for her. He had a computer desk, computer, TV stand, TV, Playstation 2 & 3, N64, & 3DS from his old room. The day he moved in his parents had it all sent over. It may have been a fairly empty two bedroom apartment but it was his so he couldn’t be happier.

The first day he went out and bought pots and some food for his new home. While he was out he saw a flyer for Badcocks and went. They checked his credit score to see how much credit he was approved for. Reuben knew it would be alot since he had a perfect credit score. Once they set him up and told him his credit limit Reuben picked out a couch and table to be delivered. It only left him ten dollars to spare on his Badcock credit card but aside from those things he only really needed a bed. He used some of his graduation cash to pick out a bed too and have it delivered with the table and couch.
Ruben went home happily on his way home from badcocks to wait for his new furniture. When he arrive home he decided that now would be a good time to take inca for a walk and maybe get to know the neighbourhood. He grabbed the leash and collar from a box in the entry way. “Here inca!” He said and the dog obeyed by happily running and jumping up
On his chest to lick his face. He could get more unpacking done later on he thought as he fastened the collar around the German shepards neck and the trotted off out the door.
They walked along the side walk watching the cars and saying hello to the people that passed by and inca was happy to get some attention. They walked along and inca started barking excitedly and running towards a girl on the street. Ruben had never seen her before and was amazed by her beauty. As he was running inca stopped infront of her but he was too dazed to stop and ran into her with a loud smack.

He grabbed her shoulders to keep Akari from falling. “I’m so sorry”

“It’s ok, is this your dog?”

“Yes, this is Inca”

“well Incas very cute” Akari said then began scratching behind Incas ears. “My name’s Akari, what’s yours?”

“Reuben” Akari smiled, only making herself look even more beautiful. “well Reuben I need to go and start on dinner for my boyfriend. It was really nice meeting you and Inca” Reuben couldn’t help but be dissapointed. He met a cute, seemingly very nice woman and she had a boyfriend. He sighed, thinking the good ones are always taken. Inca tried to follow Akari making her smile “No no puppy, Daniel hates dogs.”

“How can anyone hate dogs?” Reuben asked and Akari shrugged before saying bye again and walking home. When she got inside she quickly stripped and shoved her clothes in the washing machine in hopes Daniel woudln’t find the dog hair. She ran to the shower and jumped straight in. She didn’t have time to bother with the temperature. She had to rid herself of any evidence she interacted with a dog and get dinner on the table before he got home.
Akari got out of the shower and shivered from the chill she got from the cold water. She quickly wiped the left over water droplets off her body and wrapped her hair up rushing to her bed room to throw some sweats on.
She looked at the time and realized it had taken longer than she thought and ran into the kitchen to start a dinner of baked chicken breast and salad. While she was cooking dinner Akari thought of Ruben and smiled to herself thinking about how sweet he was and how cute Inca was. She had wanted a dog but Daniel had other opinions on that.
Beep beep beep! Akari stopped her day dream and looked at the stove. She burned the chicken beyond repair and she knew there was no time to get anything else ready and Daniel wouldn’t just have salad for dinner. The only thing she could do now was hope he wouldn’t be too upset.

She did have time to hurry and get dressed. If he saw her in sweats he would just assume she had been lazy and laid around after work. She ran to the room and quickly pulled on form fitting jeans and a tshirt. She threw the chicken away and started cleaning her mess. She heard the door open and her heart stopped. He made an irritated noise “You burned our god damn dinner didn’t you?!” He said angrily and came in the kitchen “I’m really sorry”

“why’s your fucking hair wet?”

“I’ve been ruining things all day. I fell with a cake and got it all over myself” He made a disgusted sound “sounds like you. I guess I’ll go eat at Burger King. You are getting fat anyway so you’re just going to starve tonight for burning dinner”

“ok” she said just hoping he wouldn’t hit her. To her relief he just stormed out. She was really hungry but didn’t dare eat. It wasn’t worth the chance of him finding out. She was lucky he didn’t bust her lip again. She wished she could get away from him. She knew he would find her, he promised he would after every beating if she ran. At this point though was this life better than death. Maybe she should just run and allow him to kill her. She sighed and went to brush her hair since she hadn’t after the shower. She changed back into pajamas and started cleaning anything she could find that was dirty in the house. Even though she worked aswell Akari was expected to keep the house spotless.

She was cleaning the bathroom mirror when she heard Daniel get home. He came in the bathroom, grabbing her by the arm and pulling her into the living room. He sat her on the couch then turned the TV on. He began eating, making Akari hungrier. Her stomach growled and he swiftly slammed his fist into her stomach “don’t be loud and annoying.I’m trying to watch this”

“sorry”

Reuben turned around and headed back to the apartment. Both he and Inca needed dinner. The walk back was less exciting and he daydreamed about Akari. Even though she had smiled, she had looked so sad and maybe even a little afraid. His gut told him that something was wrong. When he got home he went inside and let Inca loose. She ran to her bowl and drank some water while Reuben went into the bathroom and pulled his clothes off. He started the shower and jumped in, washing the sweat from his skin then got out and threw on a pair of shorts.

He looked through his pantry, deciding on spaghetti. He cooked, trying to be excited about his new life, but his mind constantly drifted to Akari. He was actually scared for her now. She was so beautiful and kind that it was hard for him to believe there was something wrong with her. The smell of burning meat caught his attention and he quickly took the hamburger off the burner. It wasn’t to bad so he just dumped the sauce in. When the noodles were done he drained them and put some in a bowl, drenching them in spaghetti sauce and meat. He sat down and Inca stood in front of him drooling.

“Want a bite?” Inca barked and he shushed her. He gave her a piece of meat then told her to go lay down.

Inca obeyed and he watched TV while he finished eating. After he was done he put away what few things he hadn’t set up in his new apartment. His stuff would be delivered tomorrow around lunch tomorrow. He was grateful the cheif was good friends with his father so that he probably wouldn’t be mad that he would need to take a long lunch break to be there. The whole department had been warm and welcoming on his first day. He had even started making friends with a few of the men there. He just hoped he could make his father and grandfather proud of him. They left a lot to live up to. His father was still on the police force in Raliegh and his grandfather had retired a long time ago.

He relaxed on his floor and fell asleep. Looking forward to having a bed and couch soon. He felt stupid for not having them bought ahead of time but the floor wasn’t so bad. He thought of Akari again as he went to sleep. He felt a little guilty for thinking so much of a taken woman. He just couldn’t help but wonder which apartment was hers and pretty much everything else about her.

Akari had a hard time sleeping, she always did when she went to bed hungry. She couldn’t wait for morning to come so she could get away from Daniel and go to work. Much to her dismay Daniel rolled over in his sleep and wrapped his arm around her. She frowned, hateing when he touched her in even a loving way. A man she once loved she was repulsed by. All he was to her was a monster she would give anything to get away from without the cost of her life.

The next morning Reuben woke with a sore back, but a smile on his face. He got up and got dressed for work. He ate a quick bowl of cereal then grabbed his keys and cell. “Come on Inca, back to work.” Inca followed him happily out the front door. There was a man getting into his car at the same time so Reuben waved at him. The man just glared and looked at Inca with disgust. He looked like he wanted to say something, but just got in his car and drove away. That man gave Reuben a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. He wondered if this was Akari’s Daniel and felt a chill crawl up his spine.

He had to force himself to get in his car and not bang on every door until he found hers. Inca sat in the passenger seat and whined at his distress. He scratched her head and pulled out of the parking lot, forcing himself to focus on traffic. Akari had watched from the window and worried what Danile would do when he found out there was a dog in the complex. She didn’t want Reuben to get hurt. She had been very surprised when she saw Reuben in uniform. He was a cop and very handsome. She briefly entertained the idea of asking him for help, but feared Daniel would kill them both along with Inca. She couldn’t do that to such a nice man and his dog. She hurriedly dressed and pulled her hair up in a ponytail. She practically ran out the door and down to her car, wanting to get to work and forget what had happened yesterday.

Working at Lily’s Sweet Dream always helped her through the abuse. The owners there were so loving and their daughter was an absolute angel. They treated her like family and she often saw the worried look in their eyes. She hated that they knew what Daniel did to her, it made her sad that she had burdened them.

She came in and got a hug from Marina “Morning beautiful”

“Morning, have we made any doughnuts yet?”

“Yes, my husband and I are in back eating some now. Join us.”

“Thank you” There was a bell on the door so they could hear if anybody entered. Fletcher held a sprinkle doughnut up, knowing it was Akaris favorite. She smiled at him and sat down. They ate together until the bell chimed. Marina stood but Akari insisted she keep eating with her husband and went to the front instead “How may I help you?”

“I would like a disney villan birthday cake. It’s for my eleven year old.”

“Is it a boy or girl?”

“Girl, her names Brittany”

“so just write happy birthday brittany?”

“Yes, feel free to be creative. I don’t have a creative bone in my body so what you here will come up with is better than what I could. She loved the cake last year”

“I’m glad, when does it need to be ready?”

“This weekend”

“Ok, what time?”

“sorry, I guess I should have said that too. I’d like to pick it up when the store opens”

“That’s fine, I’ll need your full name”

“Cheyenne Pillinger”

“Thank you Mrs Pillinger, we appreciate your busisness” The woman left and Akari wrote down everything. She then looked and saw Fletcher and Marina had already baked all their merchandise to sell today. Every night they’d donate the leftovers to shelters and every morning they baked replacements.

Reuben sat at his desk staring at his computer screen. He felt a hand slap down on hsi shoulder and looked up at the man he had been partnered with. His name Was Gerald Oakes and he was twenty years Reuben’s senior. “Yes sir?”

“Want to go out on patrol, get to know these streets?”

“Of course sir.”

“I love your enthusiasm for this job, we need more like you.”

“Thank you sir.”

He followed Gerald out to his patrol car and got in the passenger seat. Inca was allowed to wonder around the precint since everyone liked her so he didn’t worry about her getting into any trouble. The chief had joked about making her their mascot. Reuben was all for it and even suggested they have her a jacket made with the precint name on the side. He watched out the window, looking for anything out of place. He listened to Gerald telling him about shortcuts that he could take if he had to pursue someone on foot. He absorbed it all, enjoying getting to know his new home. He checked his watch and realized he was going to have to get lunch and go home soon to wait for his furniture.

“Hey can we get something to eat?”

“That time already? Yeah, I know a nice bakery. I’ll even wait at your apartment with you.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Reuben if you call me sir one more time I’m going to shoot you.”

“Okay sir.” He smiled and Gerald laughed.

They pulled up to Lilys Sweet Dream and got out. Reuben couldn’t believe his eyes when he say Akari talking to a man behind the counter. “Morning Akari and Flecther, where’s the misses?”

“In back, what can I get you today?” Akari was equally shocked to see Reuben standing beside Gerald. “First off this is Reuben, he’s new to our force. He hasn’t bene working very long for us but he has great promise. I wish all the young ones were like this guy here but then again he comes from a line of cops”

“Really, nice to meet you. As you heard him say this is Akari and you’ll see my wife in a few moments. Her name is Marina. We hope to see you here often”

“I already know Akari, we live in the same complex” Akari smiled “Yeah, I met him yesterday”

“Wonderful, his furniture is coming today so we’re going to grab somthing to eat and go wait at his new apartment. What do you like Reuben?”

“what’s best here?”

“Its cliche but I love their doughnuts” Fletcher laughed “don’t worry, its what we sell the most of to everybody. Akari here it’s a sprinkle doughnut every morning.”

“as a detective that I knew, a lot of mornings theirs sprinkle evidence on her face” Akari blushed as Gerald laughed. “I guess I should try the sprinkle doughnuts then” Reuben said and gave her a flirty smile he hadn’t intended to give her. It just happened on its own making her blush more. Suddenly Marina appeared with a box and waved at Reuben and Gerald who waved back. Akari put Reubens and Geralds doughnuts in the box and handed it to them. “I’m paying and I’m your senior officer as you remind me with all the sirs.” Was all Gerald said before handing Akari his credit card.

Reuben smiled, somthing that Akari discovered she loved. Gerald sighed “we forgot drinks, distracting us again Akari. I get to talking and forget somthing” Akari smiled “I gues I was distracted too.” Gerlad cracked a big smile “why, by this runt behind me” Akari blushed “it’s just surprising to see him again”

“I’m not a runt, old man.” Reuben joked back. “I’ll take one of your orange juices.”

“Me too.” Akari retrieved two bottle of juice and Gerald paid for them. “Thank you sweetie.”

“You’re welcome. I hope Daniel didn’t give you  any trouble this morning.”

“Not at all, if you ever need someone to talk to don’t be afraid to come over.” He hoped she understood what he was really saying. He had a horrible feeling about Daniel and wanted her safe.

“Thank you.” Reuben followed Gerald out to the car and they drove to his apartment.

“You be careful with Daniel son, he’s a bastard.” Gerald said as they ate and waited.

“What do you mean? Is he doing something to her?”

Gerald nodded. “You haven’t been at this job long enough to see all the little signs, but she’s being abused. The person who lived in your apartment called the police once when she heard Daniel yelling. I cam over here, but Daniel told us it was nothing. Akari was terrified, to terrified to say anything. We can’t do anything unless she says something or we see it happening so we had to leave her.” Gerald shook his head. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, especially since I knew her from Lily’s.”

Reuben almost couldn’t finish his donut he was so angry. Before he could say anything the delivery truck oulled up and he got out and unlocked and opened the door for them. Akari sold pastries and cakes to more happy customers. “That young man seemed really nice.” Marina said with a warm smile.

“Yes, he’s very kind. He has a dog.”

“He seems to really like you. Maybe you should be friends.”

“You know what Daniel would say. He’d accuse me of cheating. I don’t want to burden Reuben with my drama.”

“Listen here sweetie, if anything happens go to him. He’s a cop, he can protect you.”

Chapter Two

Akari just stayed silent. She didn’t think anybody could protect her from Daniel. He was mean and hateful. Reuben was a cop but he wasn’t a god. She couldn’t bare it if Daniel hurt him or worse killed him because she tried to escape. Marina sighed and gently put a hand on her shoulder “I love you so much Akari. You’re like a second daughter to me. One of these days” Marina choked up and couldn’t speak for a moment “One of these days that monster you live with is going to kill you if you stay…when you were in the hospital last month…” Marina had to pause again and Akari hugged her “it’s all going to be ok. I’ve told you not to worry about me Marina”

Fletcher grabbe dhis wife and started taking her into the back incase more customers came in. Right as he got to the door he looked over at Akari. “I love you too, you know that. Please, the next time he lays a hand on you, even just for our sake, you find Reuben and let him help you” Without another word he went into the back. Akari once again felt guilty for burdening them so much. She hadn’t realized till just then how much her hospital stay had upset Marina and her family. They sent her chocolates and a bear but they seemed ok when they came to see her. She thought maybe they had just been strong then for her, figureing their tears wouldn’t help her anyway.

Today was a busy day so it went by fast. Before Akari could leave Marina huged her again “I’m sorry for breaking down like that. I just worry about you”

“don’t be sorry. I love you guys too.” Akaris got in her car, hating to leave her safe haven and return to Daniel. She knew she had to hurry home though and make him dinner. She found herself hoping that Inca would surprise her again. She was such a beautiful dog and had such a handsome owner.

“I’ll see you in the morning Gerald.” Reuben waved to his partner who waved back. He and Inca then got in his car and headed home. The dog seemed overly excited and the minute he got out and opened the car door, she bolted out and ran to Akari who had also just pulled up.

“Well hellp there girl.” Akari said as the beautiful dog jumped up on her and licked her chin.

“Inca down girl.”

“It’s okay, she’s so sweet. I’m glad you came by today.”

“Me too, it was nice seeing your face again and that donut was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. I have to get inside now, but maybe we can talk again tomorrow.”

“Okay, sure.”

He watched her head upstairs to her apartment before going inside and taking off his uniform. He pulled some sweats and a tank top and heated up some leftovers for dinner. He filled Inca’s food and water bowls then grabbed his bowl out of the microwave when it beeped. Akari made some chicken alfredo pasta with steamed broccoli on the side. She heard Daniels car pull up and quickly made his plate. He pushed the door open just as she finished and crossed the room, looking irritated. He opened the refrigerator and grabbed a beer then took his plate from her. She didn’t say anything as she made herself a little plate and sat down next to him. He switched on the TV and they ate in silence. Daniel sniffed then looked over at her.

“Have you been messing with a dog?” She froze. She had forgot to shower.

“I…” was all she managed to say. He slapped her, making her drop her plate.

“It was that guy’s dog wasn’t it?”

“What guy?”

“I saw a new man in the parking lot. He waved at me all fucking smug too. You’re screwing him you whore”

“I’m not” He stood up as he grabbed her hair to jerk her up. He punched her hard in the face and let her go so she’d fall to the floor. It caused a loud thump that Inca Inca heard over the TV. She stood and Reuben could see she was upset by somthing so he switched off the TV. He just sat there to listen for anything else. As Akari went to get up Daniel kicked her in the stomach then got on top of her. He just kept punching her yelling at her. He knew the neighbors could hear but he also knew nobody would do anything about it and if they did Akari wouldn’t be brave enough to file a report.

Inca growled and and Reuben went to his room angrily to grab his gun. The second he had his gun he shoved it into his pants and collected his badge so the prick would know precisely who he was talking to. Reuben didn’t want to do much talking but if he murderd the bastard he would just go to jail. He stormed out of his apartment and loudly walked up the stairs. Neither Akari or Daniel knew he was coming between her crying and begging him to stop while he yelled and called her about every demeaning thing he could think of. As Reuben came up to the door he heard Daniel yell “You’re just a stupid, disgusting bitch!”

Reuben knocked but it was more like punches on the door. Daniel stopped “you got the neighbors involved again you cunt. Go into the god damn room” He whispered as Reuben banged louder on the door. Akaris blood remained on Daniels knuckles as he approached the door.

He yanked the door open and glared at Reuben. “What the fuck do you want?”

Reuben showed him his badge. “I heard banging, is everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine, now go away.”

“Is that blood on your hands sir?” Reuben was having a hard time keeping calm, but he knew if he lashed out he would be the one in trouble.

“I cut myself.”

“I don’t see any cuts sir, may I speak with the woman of the house please.”

“She’s sleeping.”

Reuben glared angrily back. “I have probable cause so either you bring her here or I come inside.”

Akari could hear them talking and wished Reuben would just leave. She had cleaned the blood off of her face, but bruises were already starting to appear. She didn’t want Reuben to see her like this. She heard stomping coming towards her and Daniel shoved the bedroom door open. He grabbed her arm and pulled her close.

“You say anything and I’ll kill you and your new boyfriend.” He whispered and she just nodded. He let her go and she walked out into the living room with him close behind.

Reuben wanted to pull her out of the apartment the minute he saw her. The bruises and the tears were enough to push him into a violent rage. He took a deep breath and said, “Is everything okay here ma’am?”

“Yes, I dropped a plate and cut myself. Sorry to disturb you.” She looked up at him, tears swimming in her eyes.

“He said he cut himself.” Akari started shaking, knowing Daniel wouldn’t be happy about that. “I would like to talk to her alone please.”

“why so you can fuck her again?” Akari practically whimpered back “I told you I didn’t” Daniel scoffed “why can’t you talk to her in front of me? Nothing happened so get your nosey ass downstairs.” Akari begged Reuben in her head to go before he got hurt too. Reuben was bigger than Daniel but she still worried for him. “Obviously there’s some sort of problem here and no I didn’t sleep with her. Why would you think that?”

“she was touching your dog”

“My dog jumped on her when she came home because I was taking her on a walk. Akari has never been to my apartment.”

“well leave, just because you’re a cop doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. I’ll call your station if you don’t get out of my apartment. Everythings fine, isn’t it Akari?” Akari stood there, afraid to be alone with Daniel but also afraid to put Reuben in danger. She didn’t know how he would react if she dared say anything but everything was alright. Her heart hammered while her face throbbed. “akari” Daniel said more sternly only angering Reuben further. He wanted to kill Daniel and call Andy to clean up the evidence. Instead of what his mind thought up Reuben asked softly “is everything really alright Akari?”

She looked up at him as a tear streamed down her face. He watched it go down while it wrenched his heart. Akari was trying to lie and say it was fine but she was having trouble forcing herself this time. She was so tired of dealing with Daniels torment and here was this amazing guy, a sweet and handsome man who wanted to help her.

She started sobbing, her heart aching. “I can’t…not anymore. Please, help me.”

“You fucking bitch.” He reached for Akari and Reuben pulled her behind him. “Get the fuck out of my way.” He moved threateningly forward and Reuben pulled out his gun, aiming it at Daniel’s chest.

“Back off asshole or I’ll make sure you never get back up.” Daniel stood there glaring and shaking he was so angry.

“I warned you Akari, I fucking warned you so remember anything that happens is your fault.”

Reuben backed out of the apartment and didn’t tuck his gun away until Daniel slammed the door. He grabbed Akari gently by her arm and pulled her downstairs to his apartment. He pulled her inside then shut and locked the door. He checked all the windows and pulled the curtains closed. “I shouldn’t have left. He’ll kill us. I’m so sorry.”

Reuben pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly to him. She cried into his chest, her fingers gripping his shirt. “Hush now, everything will be fine. I’ll protect you, I promise.”

“He knows where I work.”

“Then I’ll drive you there every morning. I’ll make sure your boss knows not to let you leave until I pick you up and to call the cops if Daniel shows up.”

“Why are you doing this for me?”

“I can’t stand by and watch you get hurt. I refuse to be cold and uncaring and a coward.” He pulled back to look into her eyes. “Lets get you some ice and tylenol. You can have the bed tonight and I’ll keep watch on the couch.”

“thank you” He had such a caring look in his eyes. Like it was more than just helping someone in trouble, like he actually cared about her. When he made her a bag of ice he then went to the bathroom for some tylenol, He handed her that and asked if she wanted Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Sprite or water.

“Water” he left d made her a glass of water. She took the tylenol then allowed the ice to help her throbbing head and face. “I’m so relieved you let me help you. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to leave you there” She smiled briefly but then frowned. “you shouldnt’ be relieved…he will kill us…” He grabbed her hand gently “I promised you I would protect you and I will. I want you to stay here. I wont let him anywhere near you. I will take you to work every morning and pick you up every night until I know he wont hurt you”

Akari couldn’t help but hug him again. They held the hug until Akari blushed because they had been hugging so long it was more like he was just holding her. She stood “I’ll go to bed now. I hope you sleep well on the couch” He looked a little sad as she stood “Goodnight Akari, change my alarm clock so it gets you up when you need to go to work”

“Ok, goodnight” Akari said not knowing what else to sat to him. She walked in the room, her heart thumping. Reuben was still angry and wished he could go upstairs and teach Daniel a lesson. He checked the door and windows again before laying down with his gun. If Daniel entered his house he could shoot him without getting in trouble himself.

Inca curled up on the floor next to the couch and Reuben allowed himself to fall asleep knowing his dog would alert him if anything happened. The next morning the sound of the alarm clock woke him. He sat up as Akari exited his room. “Did you sleep okay?” He asked.

“I should be asking you that question.”

“I slept fine.”

“I didn’t sleep at all, I was to scared.” He stood and walked over to her, pulling her into a gentle hug.

“Don’t be afraid, it’s okay. Why don’t you go take a shower.”

“I can’t, I don’t have any clothes. I don’t even think Daniel left for work.” Reuben went and looked out the window. Daniel’s car was still there.

“Call your boss’s wife, Marina, and see if she’ll let you borrow something of hers for today. She can bring it to work and you can change there.” She gave him a small smile, warming his heart. “Go ahead and use my phone.”

“Thank you.” He went and pulled out his clothes while she called Marina. She talked for a few minutes then went into the bathroom and showered quickly. She didn’t really want to put her dirty clothes back on, especially since her shirt had blood on it. She wrapped herself in a towel and stuck her head out the door. “Reuben?”

“Yeah, are you okay/?”

“Can I borrow some shorts and a shirt.?”

“They might be big on you, you’ll have to tie the shorts tight.”

“It’s okay, I don’t mind.”

He went and pulled out a shirt and shorts for her. “Thank you” Akari said as she took them from him. He just smiled at her then she shut the door. She dried the floor with her towel then pulled on his shorts. They were bigger on her than she thought. She tied them tightly so they would stay up and put on his shirt. She came out and melted Reuben all over again. She looked incredibly cute wearing his clothes. “you ready?” Reuben was fully dressed and driving Akari crazy. Somthing about his uniform made him even more attractive to her. “yes” They walked out to his police car where Reuben opened the door for Akari. A soft blush tinted her cheeks. Akari couldn’t remember the last time a man was thoughtful enough to open the door for her.

She got in then he let Inca in the back before getting in on his side. Daniel watched from the window upstairs. He obviously had to kill her now. He would not watch her be with another man, especially not a man that lived directly below him. Too many women had left him and it stopped with Akari. He went inot the closet where he stored the gun he bought the first time he had to threaten Akari to stay. The next day after work he went to a Pawn Shop and bought a revolver with all the ammo he needed for it.

He decided to wait a little longer so Reuben wouldn’t still be at the bakery with her when he went to end her life. He would walk in, give Akari one last chance and if she refused he would shoot her and everyone else that was working today then run out. When he felt a sufficient amount of time passed he went down to his car and ripped out of the parking lot.

Reuben pulled to a stop in front of the bakery and got out. He went around to Akari’s side and pulled her door open. He handed her out and walked her inside. Marina and Flethcer hugged her the minute she walked in, the former crying. “I’m so glad you’re safe.” Marina said then turned to Reuben and hugged him too. “Thank you so much.”

“It couldn’t stand by and do nothing ma’am.” He replied with a smile.

“Look at me crying in the middle of the store. Come on sweetie lets get you in something that fits. I’ll do your makeup to cover your bruises.”

“Okay, I’ll see you after work Reuben.” Akari said as Marina pulled her away.

“You have no idea what this means to us. We were starting to fear the worst.” Fletcher said with an appreciative smile. “So is she staying with you?”

“For the time being. I wanted to tell you to call the police if Daniel comes in here. We both know he’s dangerous and I can’t be here to protect Akari. So promise me you won’t do anything crazy if you can hlp it.”

“I don’t want to die either, I’ve got a little girl and Marina.”

“Good, thank you.”

“How about I make you up a box of donuts on the house. I’m sure the boys at the precinct would love them for breakfast.”

“If you want to then sure.”

He sat down at one of the tables and waited patiently for Fletcher to throw together a big box of different flavored donuts. He handed it to him and Reuben told him bye before hurrying out the door. He had to hurry so he wouldn’t be late and he was sure if he was the donuts would make up for it.

He wished he could stay and guard her but he would want to do that every day and he’d lose his job. When Akari was dressed and her makeup complete they began work. Akari was tense, knowing Daniel was coming for her. Fletcher rubbed her back ‘it’s going to be ok Akari”

“You don’t know Daniel like I do…he’s coming”

“The police department isn’t far away. If we have to call they’ll get here quickly”Akaris eyes widened as she saw Daniels car pass to pull into the parking lot for the bakery “thats his car! He’s here! O my god!”

“Marina call the police!” Fletcher yelled into the back. Marina had her phone in her pocket and quickly pulled it out. She couldn’t think of the preceincts number so she just dialed 911. Daniel walked past the large window and went for the door. Akaris heart was barely beating, she knew this was her end. The operator picked up and Marina whispered because she heard Daniel open the bakery door. They assured her they would call the department right away and to just remain calm while trying to keep Daniel calm.

“We need to talk Akari” He said in a tone that exuded his anger. “Can we do it outside” she wanted to get away from her friends so they wouldn’t get hurt. “No we’re talking in here! You had your fun last night and now it’s time to come home Akari. You are mine! Always have been and you will be until the day you die.” He still hadn’t pulled the gun out of his hoodies front pocket but they could guess he had one since his hand was in there. Akari wasn’t sure how to answer. She didn’t want anybody hurt and Marina has successfully called the police.

“Daniel, just calm down okay?”

“Don’t tell me what to do.” He reached across the counter and grabbed her hair. Fletcher tried pulling him off and Daniel pulled out his gun and shot him. Akari screamed as Fletcher fell to the floor gripping his shoulder. Akari grabbed a pair of scissors off the counter and stabbed him in the arm. He let her go and she ran. She didn’t want to leave Fletcher, but she had no choice. She shoved Marina into the office and then forced her into the closet.

“Where’s Fletcher?” Marina asked.

“Just stay here and be quiet okay.” Akari answered and shut the door. She slammed the office door as Daniel came around the corner and locked it.

“Come out you stupid bitch.” He slammed against the door and she hid next to the filing cabinet, gripping the scissors so tightly her hand cramped.

Reuben was in his car with Gerald when the call came in. His heart nearly stopped when he heard the words shots fired. He switched on his lights and siren as he flipped around. His was absolutely enraged and hoped everyone was okay. He knew Akari would blame herself if someone died. When they finally got to the bakery there were three other cop cars there. A couple of the cops were putting up a barricade and forcing people to go back inside. He screeched to a halt and switched of his siren before jumping out. He popped the trunk and both he and Gerald pulled on their bullet proof vests.

All the officers knew Akari and how the bastard inside treated her so they were all tense and worried. It would be a sad day for the entire department if Daniel killed Akari or one of the owners. In a serious, dark tone Reuben asked “what’s going on?”

“The negotiator is going to be here any moment. He is threatening to blow Fletchers brains out. He wont say anything about where Akari and Marina are. All we know is that they have to be in back because they aren’t up front where Daniel is holding the gun to Fletcher. He needs medical attention. Daniel shot him through the shoulder. We asked him if Marina or Akari was shot but he wont answer that either. He hasn’t answered a single question about them. Our main goal at this second is to get Fletcher out and to a hospital. He’ll bleed out if he has to sit there too long. His shirt is soaked. Reuben peeked inside and saw that a majority of Fletchers shirt was drenched in blood and sticking to his skin.

Fletcher was impressing him in this moment. He had a gun to his head and was bleeding badly and he didn’t look the least bit scared. All he looked was angry that his wife and Akari were in danger. Fletcher looked like he would rip out Daniels heart if given the chance. His teeth were clenched together painfully tight. Reuben just hoped that Marina and Akari were ok and just held up in the back.

Akari shook as she listened to Daniel threatening to kill Fletcher. This was her fault, she had brought him here and he had hurt someone she considered family. She felt like such a coward, hiding in the back while Fletcher suffered. She started crying and Marina opened the closet door. She crawled over to Akaria and wrapped her in a hug. “It’s okay honey, calm down.”

“No it’s not, it’s all my fault. I should have stayed home and dealt with with it.”

“Don’t say that, Daniel would have beat you to death sooner or later.”

“I don’t care, I deserve it for being an idiot.”

“Come out right now Akari or I’ll kill your little friend.” Daniel screamed. They heard another voice trying to calm him down. Akari wanted this all to end, even if it meant her dying instead of eveyone else. She pushed herself to her feet and tucked the scissors in the back of her jeans.

“What are you doing Akari?” Marina asked.

“I’m not going to stand by and be a coward, not anymore. I have to do something.”

“He’ll kill you if you go out there, Fletcher wouldn’t want that.”

“Just stay here and be really quiet. You and Fletcher have to live for Lily.” She crossed the room and unlocked the office door then pushed it slowly open. She relocked it and closed it behind her. She peeked around the corner, seeing Daniel pressing a gun to Fletcher’s temple who was cover in blood and looking very pale. “Daniel, I’m coming out.” She said and raised her hand as she moved around the corner.

“Get over here now you stupid bitch.” She moved towards him, trying to keep herself from shaking.

Reuben went further into his panicked state. He wanted to scream for her to go back to where she was hiding. He just may have if he wasn’t afraid of startling Daniel and making him shoot somone. The chief had given the ok to shoot Daniel at this point. They just needed a good shot at him. When Akari was close enough he let Fletcher go to grab Akari. Fletcher, not using his better judgement grabbed for the gun. A shot fired off but only went into the cieling. Akari had never stabbed anyone before but she knew nothing short of Daniel dieing would keep him from coming back after her when he got out of prison for this. While Daniel was looking at Fletcher Akari quickly pulled the sciccors out of her pants and stabbed it into his throat. Even though she didnt know much about human anatomy she managed to stab it in his carotid artery.

She knew she hit somthing serious when he started practically spraying blood everywhere. His angry and demanding face turned frightened. Fletcher managed to get the gun and the paramedics came in. Most going to Fletcher then the others going to her and Daniel. Daniel was bleeding fast, had lost in moments all the blood Fletcher had lost sitting there that while time. She wondered what she could have possibly hit. Reuben ran to her while other officers went to the back for Marina. The paramedic finished looking her over “you seem fine, you can tell Reuben what happened.” Reuben hugged her tightly.

Reuben didn’t even care about the other officers looking. He deeply cared for Akari and didn’t care who knew it, he wanted her to know it. Hearing that she was in trouble couldn’t have made it sink in any more how much he needed her. “I was so worried” Akari smiled “I’m sorry..I’m sorry you had to be drug into this whole thing.” Reuben kissed her cheek ‘don’t apologize. I’m glad i coudl be there to save you from him…I hate things got this far…I promised I’d protect you” Akari kissed his cheek “You helped me plenty. I wouldn’t have left him if it weren’t for you. Right now you need to take my statement and I need to call Lily before she hears about this from someone else”

Reuben wrote down everything she said, his hand shaking through some of it. He had come very close to losing her. He handed her his cell and she dialed Lily’s number. “Hello?” She said when she answered.

“Lily, hey sweetie, it’s Akari.”

“Your voice is shaking, is everything okay?”

Akari cleared her throat. “Daniel attacked the bakery, your dad was injured.”

“Is he going to be okay?” Her voice sounded panicked and Akari looked at Reuben for help. He reached for the phone and Akari handed it to him.

“Hey Lily this is officer Kandinsky, your dad is a tough guy and he’s going to be just fine. Would you like Akari and I to pick you up and bring you to the hospital?”

“Yes please, I’m at school right now. Akari knows where it is.”

“Okay, wait for us outside.” He hung up as the EMTs were rolling Fletcher and a barely alive Daniel out of the bakery. “Fuck, are you kidding me? What the fuck is he made out of?”

“Hate and bitterness.” Akari answered as she stared at her ex. “Do you think he’ll be coming back for me?”

“No, he’ll be in for a long time.” Reuben waved Gerald over. “I’m going to take Akari and pick up Lily.”

“Okay, I’ll get a ride from one of the other officers.” Reuben pulled his best off as they approached his car then tossed it in the trunk before going over and opening the passenger door for Akari. She gave him a small smile and climbed in. He went around to the driver side and got in, switching on his lights and siren as he pulled away from the bakery. He wanted get to Lily and get her to her father as quickly as possible. Akari reach over and took his hand, needing the contact to keep herself calm. He laced his fingers through hers and brushed his thumb over her palm.

“Fletcher’s going to be okay. He’s tough.”

“Yeah, I know.” They pulled up to the school where Lily was waiting outside with her principle. She got in quickly “I knew that bastard was going to snap someday. I’m just glad he didn’t kill you Akari. You’re my sister”

“Thank goodness he didn’t kill your father either”

“My dads the most stubborn man on the planet. Nothing could kill him.” They drove quickly to the hospital and asked about the status of Mr and Mrs Cepule. The nurse informed then that Mr Cepule was still in surgery but Mrs Cepule was in the waiting area. The nurse pointed and they hurried off to find her. Marina found them first and hugged her daughter. Marina then hugged Akari “don’t you ever be that stupid again. Daniel could have killed you”

“I’d rather that than you lose your husband. You guys have a little family.”

“You’re part of it, you know that.” Akari smiled at them and they had a group hug. Marnia motioned for Reuben to join. He was more than happy to. A few hours later a nurse came to get them so they could see Fletcher. She informed them that he was still sleeping but they could be in the room. Marina was just happy to hear surgery went well and that Fletcher was going to be fine. “why don’t you two call me when Fletcher is awake?”

“Ok baby, go unwind from all that. You had a gun pointed at you today”

“I love you guys and I’m so sorry.”

“Hush now sweetie.” Marnia and Lily gave her a hug then went back to be with Fletcher. Reuben grabbed Akari’s hand and pulled her out of the hospital. He used the radio in his car to tell Gerald he wouldn’t be coming back in the rest of the day and to tell the chief he was taking care of Akari. Gerald radioed back and told him not to worry, that the chief wouldn’t be mad and that he would be by later to drop off Inca. Reuben was thankful for getting such an understanding partner. They drove in silence back to the apartment complex with Akari staring out the window the whole way.

“Do want to stay with me or do you want to stay upstairs?” He asked as he pulled into the parking lot.

“I don’t want to be alone, I’ll stay with you.” He came to a stop and they got out and headed inside. He changed out of his uniform and frowned when he saw her sitting on the couch. She looked near tears so he sat down next to her and pulled her into his arms. She started crying and he rubbed her back and shushed her.

“Stop blaming yourself.”

“It’s not that. I know Fletcher will be okay. It’s just that I’m finally free.” She wiped at her face and looked up at him. “Thanks to you, I’m free. Thank you.”

“You never have to thank me Akari. I would do it again and again if it meant your happiness.”

“Why, why did you do so much for me?”

“I don’t really know. From the first moment I saw you, I was draw to you like a magnet to metal. Your sad eyes pulled me in and I knew I would do anything to make you happy. I keep thinking what if Inca had not pulled me into you. You might be in the hospital or worse, dead. I guess that means I love you.”

“You barely know me. How can you love me?”

“Love doesn’t know time, but I will spend every day getting to know the real you and making you fall madly in love with me.”

Akari wrapped her arms around Reuben and kissed him. He held her close and began to gently kiss back. She started to softly cry again. She couldn’t believe she was finally free and with a kind and very handsome man that just told her that he loved her. They sat there holding eachother for a long while. Just soaking up eachothers warmth and comfort. They had both been through a lot of stress today and needed to just unwind in eachothers auras. When dinner came their appetites were back so they ordered some Chinese take out. Their food had only just arrived when Lily called to tell her Fletcher was awake. She hung up and said “lets put this in the fridge and go see Fletcher. He’s up now”

Reuben stood and gathered up the food and put it in his fridge for tehm to eat when they got back. The two rushed over to the hospital and went back to Fletchers room. He smiled when Akari came in. She ran over to hug him. “I hope you’re not blaming yourself.”

“I’m not any more”

“good, I feel fine. They have me on plenty of pain meds. I was too pissed at the bakery to feel pain there”

“How long are they keeping you?”

“They haven’t told me yet. We’re closing the bakery for a week regardless but we will still give you pay”

“You don’t have to”

“I know we dont but we can and we will. It’ll be fine.” Akari and Reuben stayed until visiting hours were over then returned to Reubens apartment. They walked inside and Reuben reheated the food so they coud eat. It was still sinking in for Akari that Reuben had really just said he loved her. His voice and eyes when he said it told her that he meant it with all of his heart.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that you love me.”

“Well it’s true. I love you Akari, I love you very much. That won’t change.” There was a knock on the door and Reuben got up and answered. It was Gerald with Inca. The dog ran happily over to Akari and sat down in front of her. “Thanks for bringing her.”

“No problem, she was really restless though. I think she knew something was wrong. The chief said she wouldn’t stop pacing.” Gerald replied then looked past Reuben. “How are you feeling Akari?”

“Like I’m dreaming.”

“I would think that would be normal, but before you know it you’ll be living a normal life.”

Akari smiled at him and Gerald told them bye and headed out. Inca was still sitting in front of Akari, wagging her tail. “Can I give her a bite of food?”

“Sure.” Akari fed Inca a piece of meat then the dog curled up next to her feet. “I hope you know that this isn’t a dream. You’re fully awake, I promise.”

“Thank you for being there for me and loving me. I’m still sorry you had to be pulled into all of this.”

“I’m not, I’m glad it was me. I promise to make you happy and support you. I’ll never raise a hand to you or say an unkind word. I want you to stay with me always. Move in with me.”

She stared at him wide eyed, her heart thundering in her chest. She really didn’t want to go back to her apartment, there were so many bad memories, but she knew Reuben wouldn’t force her to do anything. He was adamant about making her happy. “Okay, I’ll move in, I’ll stay with you.”

Reuben hugged her “I’m sure most the stuff in that apartment has bad memories for you so I just want to bring the stuff you actually want. Everything else we can donate to a thrift shop. In fact, Warm Hearts is just down the road and they actually help battered women. I think donating there would be perfect. Donate all that bastards stuff. Let his things go to collecting money to save abbused women.” Akari hugged back tightly “sounds like a great idea”

“wanmt me to go grab your clothes real quick? I’m sure I can tell yours from his”

“Yes please, I dont think I can go up there again just yet. I just want to enjoy the calm of being in your apartment” Reuben kissed her “Our apartment” he corrected and she smiled again, lighting up his world. He quickly grabbed clothes so she would have somthing to wear tomorrow. “you ready for bed?” He asked when he got back into the apartment “yeah, did you bring me my pajama shorts?”

“Yep, um, could I sleep with you in my bed tonight? It’s fine if you aren’t ready for that”

“I’d like that” Reuben smiled adn they went into their room. Akari went into the bathroom to change into her tank top and pajama shorts while he stripped so that he was only wearing boxers. When Akari came up she paused, her eyes traveled his body making him smile smugly. She noticed the smile “do you want to sleep on the couch?” Reuben laughed “No, I’m just glad you like what you see. Please get in bed so I can hold you” She got in bed with him and they mingled their bodies together. She fit so perfectly in his arms. She truly felt safe and loved when he touched her. She hadn’t enjoyed being held like this in years. She dreaded any contact with Daniel but now she was with a man who she could look forward to cuddling with.

Akari was excited for this to really be her home. She would start getting things from the old apartment with Reuben tomorrow. With his strength she could go into that hell again long enough to gather the things she wanted and to decide what all was going to the thrift store. Akari was glad that she was finally able to stick up for herself. If she hadn’t Reuben wouldn’t have been able to save her. All she had to say was enough was enough and now her life was finally falling into place. Her life was finally somthing that she could be happy with and feel blessed to be in. “I love you too” She whispered making Reuben hold her tighter and kiss her head “he had been waiting for her to say it back. Now that she had his heart sang as he drifted away for a long nights rest.

~ The End

Note: Stacy Meyer also attributed to this one

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