SEXT(4)

By: Penny Wylder


“Get off of me,” I say, very slowly.

He smirks. “Make me.”

That’s when a heavy weight collides with us.

I stagger against the glass, barely managing to keep myself upright by bracing on the window with both palms. I hear grunting, shouts, but all I register is the fact that there’s no one grabbing me anymore.

I push myself upright. There’s a bruise already forming around my wrist, and from the ache in my shoulder, I’ll have another handprint-shaped bruise there too.

When I look up, I see two figures in front of me: Dick and the back of a uniformed man. I recognize the uniform, of course. I see it every single day, at least twice a day, as I leave and come back to this building.

My doorman.

He throws a punch now, a mean right hook that connects squarely with Dick’s jaw. But Dick is so drunk, that even though I hear that punch land with a smack, it doesn’t slow him down. His brain probably doesn’t even register the pain.

Dick roars and shoves the doorman with both hands. My heart leaps into my throat. From this angle, I can’t tell which doorman it is—hopefully not Paul, the sweet little old guy who always tries to carry my groceries for me. Dick is huge, big enough to break him in half.

The doorman twists out of Dick’s grip and knees him in the gut, which momentarily slows Dick down, winding him. On his way down, he pulls the doorman sideways, knocking his hat askew.

The blond hair tells me all I need to know.

Zayne.

I try to remember what I know about him aside from his name and the way he always remembers mine. Not much. He’s worked here the entire time I’ve been living here, but aside from leaving hefty tips at Christmas and exchanging pleasantries about the weather, I don’t normally pay too much attention to the guys at the door. Zayne is younger than the other doormen, I know that much.

Thankfully, it looks like he’s built from stronger stuff, too.

Dick twists out of his grip and goes for one last punch, but Zayne is on top of this. He dodges the swing easily and fells Dick with a single hit to the temple. I wince as Dick collapses to his knees, holding his head.

Then Zayne turns to face me, running a hand through his short-cut blond hair.

Oh.

Oh.

How did I never notice his face before?

“Are you all right, Ms. Walker?” Zayne is asking, his expression all concern.

I am now, I think stupidly. But outwardly, I just nod.

“Go inside, Ms. Walker. I’ll handle this.”

I just keep staring at him, confused. Between the chiseled jawline, the sharp cheekbones, the intense blue eyes, I can’t figure out how I never noticed him. Never really looked beneath the wide brim of his uniform hat.

His uniform is unbuttoned at the top now, disheveled from the fight. It reveals just a hint of his chest beneath, but from the shape of it, not to mention the way he just took out that brick house of a stalker, it’s clear he’s ripped.

I watch his head bob as he hauls Dick to his feet and half-walks, half-frog-marches him to the curb, where he hails another taxi. The muscles along his back ripple as he lifts his arm, and when he turns back to check on me, I can see a faint 5 o’clock shadow along his jawline, barely visible since it’s blond, too. He could be the poster boy for Swiss-Germany, though from his thick accent, he clearly grew up around here.

What is wrong with me? I think, shaking my head. I don’t hit on my doormen. This is ridiculous. I’m just amped up from the adrenaline, the fear of that attack, and the relief of being saved.

Finally, a taxi pulls up, and Zayne unceremoniously deposits Dick in the backseat. I watch him pay the driver extra for taking the bleeding drunk guy. When he turns back to me, his blue eyes are piercing. “Ms. Walker, please, you’ve had a shock. You should go upstairs and relax. I can handle this.”

“Clove,” I say.

His brow furrows slightly. “I’m sorry?”

“It’s Clove, not Ms. Walker.” I push off the glass wall and take a few shaky steps toward him. Clearly my body hasn’t yet received the message that the coast is clear.

“Whoa, careful now.” He catches my arms to steady me. I try to ignore how warm and reassuring his large hands feel, wrapped gently around my biceps. “You’re still running on adrenaline. You should sit down.”

“Thank you,” I tell him as he guides me toward the double doors. He keeps one hand wrapped around my waist as he opens the door and aims for the settee just inside. I always wondered what this chair was for. It’s not like anybody hangs out in the lobby much.

“It was nothing,” he waves it off, but I shake my head.

“You saved me.”

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