I can feel blood dripping from my head onto the floor, and I know that this can’t be good. Deciding to try a different tactic, I start screaming as loud as I can. Like bloody murder screaming, hoping to God that someone will hear me.
The man puts his hand over my mouth, and I immediately bite him. That gets me another swift punch to the face, this one to my eye.
Right as I open my mouth to scream again, I hear George barking. I look up just in time to see Duke storm into the room. Duke always kind of looks angry, but this is different. This looks like pure, unfiltered rage.
As he lifts the man off of me, he throws him back down on the ground, getting on top of him and using his face as a punching bag. With every swing of Duke’s fist, the man’s face looks more and more mangled.
When the man stills, Duke rushes over to me, sitting on the floor and looking me over. “Fuck, Avery. What did that son of a bitch do to you?”
“I’m okay,” I manage to get out in a whisper. “Do I really look that bad?”
“No, Angel.” He says with tears in his eyes. “You still look beautiful.”
“Liar,” I say.
The man starts moving around, and both of us look over. He quickly sits up and reaches to grab a pistol that is holstered on his ankle. Duke says to me, “Avery, baby, I need you to close your eyes.”
I do as he asks, and I jump as I hear the shot of a gun. And jump again when I hear the body hit the floor.
After we are sure that the guy is dead, Duke pulls out his phone and punches in a number. When someone on the other end answers, he says, “Yeah, Boyd, I’m going to need a clean-up crew. And a doc. Send me everyone you got. That son of a bitch, Lawson, came to my house and attacked my girl.” After a moment, he says, “Thanks, man."
When he hangs up, he looks back at me. “The cavalry is on their way.”
“You’re all the cavalry I need, Sarge.”
He holds my face without moving me too much. When my eyes meet his, I see the tears now streaming down his cheeks. “Angel, I’m so sorry. I should have been here.”
“Duke, don’t do that. None of this is your fault. And you showed up when I needed you.” I reach up and pat his cheek. My eyes start to get heavy, and the urge to sleep suddenly overwhelms me.
“Avery, Angel, I need you to stay awake for me. You can’t go to sleep. You probably have a concussion. It shouldn’t take long for people to get here.”
Knowing he’s probably right, I open my eyes and struggle to keep them open.
He takes my hand in his. “Avery, I have to confess something.”
Joking, I ask, “Do you have another girlfriend or something? Because this would be a super shitty time to tell me. I mean, read the room, man.”
He laughs. “No. No other girlfriends. But I did lie to you when you asked me if I wanted to get married. Although I will still do whatever it is that you want, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to marry you. I would love to call you my wife.”
“I’d like that too.” I smile, fighting back my own tears. “But I’m going to need you to ask me again when I’m not bleeding all over the floor, okay?”
Moments later, a couple of paramedics come in through the front door. Duke calls for them that we are in the kitchen.
I hear George bark, and I grab Duke by the shirt. “I need you to go check on the dog. George tried to save me and bit the son of a bitch, and he kicked him pretty hard.”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“Please,” I beg. “They have to look me over, anyway.”
The moment he’s gone, I feel my eyes start to get heavy once again. The paramedic apparently has started an IV and is giving me some pain medicine. I didn’t even feel him do it. That can’t be a good sign, right?
I fight the good fight, but soon enough, my eyes grow too heavy, and I can’t stay awake any longer.
"Duke,really,I'mfine,"Avery insists. "I don't need you to do all of this."