I made it halfway past the nurse's office when he caught up with me. I should have put the sleep powder in his eggs, not the damned coffee. What if, what if…
He grabbed me around the waist and dragged me into the little lane between two buildings, then slammed my back against the brick wall. My breath left in a gasp and I crumpled into a pile, clutching the back of my head as the world spun. Over the roar of blood in my ears, I could hear almost drunken fumbling of button and zipper, then his hand coiled in my hair and yanked it hard to pull my head back. Spots flickered in my eyes and I noticed gray blurs at the edges of my vision.
"You shouldn't have done shat…" He was slurring slightly, fighting the effects of the sleeping pill. "Now I hash to punish you…"
He pulled me up by my hair and turned me around, grinding the right side of my face against the rough brink. I tried to scream as the abrasive bricks tore my skin, but his heavy fist landed a few inches above my kidney. Seeing stars, I slumped in his grip, gasping for air as he fumbled with my jeans, blindly groping for the zipper.
I should have given him both pills… What if…
"Anja!" The voice sent a jolt through me more powerful than a lightning strike, and Goethe barreled into Aaron, knocking him away and catching me with gentle arms when I fell back. He was thinner than I'd last seen him, his skin a few shades paler, but his eyes, those beautiful eyes, were alive with fury to rival that of a god. He gently laid me against the wall and caressed my cheek with such tenderness that I began to tear up. "Tigger… He… Aaron…"
He kissed me gently, silencing the choked-up explanation. When he pulled back, his expression hardened once more. "One moment my love. I need to take care of the trash."
The fight that ensued would have been impressive if Aaron wasn't half-functioning, but for once, I didn't care that it was an unfair fight. Goethe pretty much went to town on the bastard, slamming his face against the wall until his whole face resembled bloody meat, then he rammed Aaron's bleeding face to the ground and began kicking him so viciously that it surprised me to see Aaron still alive when he finished.
Once satisfied that Aaron was finished for now, Goethe returned to me, lifting me in his arms princess-style and carrying me to the nurse's office. He had a slight limp, either from the fight or wherever he'd been for the last few weeks, but he said nothing of it, only glancing down at me to make sure I was still awake.
Tears stung the scrapes on my face, and I suddenly threw my arms around his neck, breaking down into gasping sobs. His only reaction was to hold me as tightly as he could without hurting me, letting me cry until both our shirts were soaked with blood and tears.
Once I caught my breath, I hiccupped a few times, then whimpered.
"Don't leave me again…"
"Never again, Anja… Never."
"I love you, Tigger."
"I love you too, Princess."