“Trick or Treat!” Two small goblins yelled out.
Julia Lincoln loved Halloween.
Halloween night produced at least a dozen or more varieties of ghosts and goblins in their frightful treks, creeping across lawns, seeking their hoards of treats from door to door. Fairy-tale princesses, clowns, rock stars, monsters, cartoon characters which swarmed in droves of candy seekers.
Uh oh, a small vampire fell when he lost his footing on the front stoop. His candy spilled out across the concrete.
“Careful, little one.” She helped him scoop the goodies into his plastic pumpkin and handed it back to him. “There you go, buddy. Oooouuuu. Just don't bite me.”
He giggled and stuck out his reloaded pumpkin. “I won't.”
She dropped several more pieces into his orange container. It wouldn't do to leave a bunch of this stuff around the house. She'd eat it and gain five pounds. “You're just about the last one. I think.”
He mumbled a thank you and ran to his father...well, she assumed the man was his father. It could be a big brother, an uncle, a neighbor or the mother’s boyfriend.
It was interesting watching the two as they hurried down her driveway. The little one giggled and wanted to move on ahead, but the man grabbed the boy’s hand and pulled the child back. Children were such a delight. She had wanted to settle down from her travels one day and raise a family, but at her age, the best husband prospects were already married with
children of their own.
Her house sat at the outer limits of a dead-end street. The treat seekers trekked the long length of her driveway, because of her reputation for the most excellent booty around. She certainly couldn't let them down and this time of the year, she could be a kid again. Life was busy enough without being a kid once in awhile.
Eerie music played from her open living room window. Amid cobwebs and black, dangling spiders, she sat in a chair on her front stoop--the same way as last year, and the year before. How many years? Good grief, she must have been doing this for four or five years just from this house, her parent’s old house. The ritual kept up the family tradition. How
often could she be a witch and be liked? She even painted her face and skin with green makeup and put green spray on her hair. The danged makeup itched and she scratched her jaw. Even with the pleasure of the occasion, she had to suffer with the smell and pastiness of thick theatrical makeup. Once a year, she enticed little ones to take chocolates and sweet-and-sours from her black cauldron. Not a bad day, for sure.
That little boy must have been the last because no one else ventured up or down the lighted street on either side. Doggone-it. Those few hours of trick-or-treat always went too fast. Well, she might as well go into the house and settle in for the night. She gathered her full-length black skirt and stepped through the entrance of her home. She turned and
closed the door and switched off the outside light. She could get a shower now and get out of this clammy makeup.
She had taken no more than one step away from the entrance when something sounded at the door. It had been no more than a few seconds since she closed it. Was that a knock? How could she miss someone on that street? Maybe it was a neighbor, but why didn't he just knock like everyone else? All her neighbors would pound on the door, especially if she had
just closed it in his or her face.
Whoever it was scratched on the metal door and now opened it. Could Bob Trumble be trying to frighten her? Oh man! He was such a tease as well as a good neighbor, but she had seen him leave with his wife and little fairy princess.
She glanced through the peephole. No one. Or was it? A big mass blocked it. That Bob! How did his wife put up with his shenanigans all the time? Julia parted the big wooden door just enough to see out. The safety chain stretched.
A large costumed man with white hair stood inside the security door. Breaking the chain, the man pushed through the door's opening.
Julia shrieked bloody-murder. He grabbed her by the forearm and prodded her backwards into the living room.
“What do you want?” That didn’t even sound like her when her voice rose with fear.
The giant man stared at her with an entreating gaze. He slammed the door closed behind him with a force that made the wall shake.
“Hey! What do you think--?”
The man turned her around so fast her head spun, and then he covered her mouth with his large hand. He encircled her waist with his arm and enveloped her as if she were a small child. Such fear, like none she had never experienced, tensed her. She couldn’t even jerk away, because he was much too big and strong. His body heat came through her thin costume
dress. Hard muscular arms felt firm around her. Mercy! What was he going to do to her?
“I will not hurt you.” His deep voice vibrated in her ear. “Do not call out...please.”
He barged in her house and grabbed her, but he wouldn't hurt her? Who did he think he was fooling?
“Give truth to me that you will not call out.” His voice faltered and his words sounded strung together rather oddly, enough to confuse her more. “I need help. Help me and I release you.”
Yeah, right. He hadn't convinced her yet, but she nodded anyway. He eased his hand from her mouth and allowed her to turn around to face him. Instead of letting her loose, he clamped his fingers onto her arm again.
Well, so much for making a run for it. “You said you'd let me go.”
“It is a pre...pre...caution.”
He stood a head taller than her. His hair was white, as white as an old man's, but thick and full and flowed in waves just above his broad shoulders. A golden tan emphasized his taut skin. A flat band of gold like a crown circled his head and came to a point in the middle of his forehead. The center of the point held a black onyx with a white star or sun
in the middle.
Thirty maybe? Not an age his hair would suggest. A sliver of sapphire blue eyes peered under thick white lashes and distinctive white brows. Well, at least she wouldn't forget him if she lived to talk to the police. “What do you want?”
“I hurt. I cannot make it to my.... “ His brow dipped and displayed his pain. He swayed, but lifted his hand to his forehead and shoved away a wavy lock. He had blood just at his hairline. “Do not call...the law authorities. Please...do not call--.” His voice held a heavy accent, but not a type that she could recognize.
His dropped her hand, and keeled over with a thump onto the floor.
The golden-skinned giant rested facedown on her living-room carpet. He just spread-eagled there, like a mountain of muscle, which accentuated his body, and shouted power and strength with every chiseled curve. He was like Samson ready to topple the pillars of the temple. Well, he had toppled but not with the stone columns.
“Okay, Samson.” Her voice quivered but she just couldn’t help it. “What should I do with you?” She stepped around him, because she didn't dare touch him. “Neighbors would think that I've lost my mind if I run over and tell them that Samson collapsed on my floor.”
Mercy! He made an awesome picture of male flesh. He hadn't moved, but his sides wavered from his breathing. At least he wasn't dead. Wouldn't that have looked good in the morning newspaper--strange man found dead in neighborhood woman's house?
“I guess I should get some help. That's the most logical thing. Isn't it? You could be dying on my living-room floor.” She paced beside him. “Julia, you're an idiot. Quit talking to yourself and go next door and see if anyone is home. This guy's big enough to take on a squad of men to help, much less a single woman.”
What if he came to? What if he didn't? “And why am I standing here like an idiot just looking at him?”
He was pretty amazing, though and she crouched beside him. “Okay, Samson, let's get you on your back were I can get a better look at that cut on your head.”
Pushing him was like displacing an enormous boulder. At first, his body didn't budge. It took every effort she could muster to roll him over but when he did move, his back met the floor with a dull thud.
Wow! His costume was magnificent. He had some kind of thin metal band around his head and he wore a sleeveless, thigh-length, Luke Skywalker-type white tunic and white, woven pants. Black leather boots came to his knees. A thick, black leather belt circled his waist and held some kind of sheath in which a bronze handle stuck out. On the left side of his
belt, he had clipped a black metal-looking box that resembled a television remote control. Whatever it was, the metal contraption didn't match his costume.
“I don't know what your costume is supposed to portray, an ancient warrior maybe? Or a pirate? But it's unique. If I gave out prizes for tonight’s best, you'd win first place.”
Come to think of it, his costume wasn’t the only thing unique, he was gorgeous. However, stunning people could still be dangerous. He didn't look like it now, lying still with gentle breathing moving his chest.
He had something dark red on his satiny white tunic. She touched the crimson spot and pulled her finger away. Blood. He wasn't kidding. Something had hurt him and more than a bump on the head. Using her fingertips she tugged his hair loose of the metal head band and lifted it to look at the wound. The head wound wasn't bleeding like the chest
wound, but it looked fresh because the skin around it hadn't had time to get inflamed or discolored.
Her breath swished out and ruffled the loosened hair on his forehead. “Now I really don't know what to do with you.”
On her cordless phone, she punched in the “9” and then a “1”. She paused her hand over the last digit. He had said ‘please.’ He had looked so pitiful when he asked her to not call anyone.
The phone beeped when she pushed the “off” button.
“I'm crazy. I have to be. I should be calling the police, or EMS to get you an ambulance.” She sat back on her heels. “You could be public enemy number one and have your mug plastered in all the post offices. You could have... I'm crazy. That's what. Or my imagination is driving me wild.”
So, she had to think about this. He didn't want the police involved. That had to be why he had covered her mouth and grabbed her. But why couldn't he just ask for help instead of barging in?
How many more agonizing minutes passed she didn’t know. Crazy or not, she had to try to see to his injuries. She wouldn't call '911' for now, and maybe she wouldn't regret it.