Don met Javier in the foyer of the Lee Carlton mansion, the sun was rising in the east, spraying the hills and the surrounding area with it's shine. Don was dressed up in a red velvet robe, with black pyjamas and wore comfy gentleman slippers. He saw Javier dressed up in jeans and a shirt and wondered what was so urgent that he had been woken up from sleep, but he came to a conclusion that it had to do with Ruby.
"Where would Ruby go if she were to escape from it all?" Javier demanded.
"Might you explain to me what the hell is going on?" Don demanded back.
"She was attacked in her own home..." Javier growled, "By Christopher Lewis and Felix Stowe."
"What!?" Don replied, "You must be mistaken..."
"I'm never mistaken..." Javier replied, "Now, you have to tell me, where she would go... where she would feel safe?"
"Dear God, poor Ruby..." Don sank down against the ornate table standing in the middle of the foyer.
"I need you to tell me where I can find her... if I can't find my answers from you, I'll get them from someone else Don," Javier said becoming impatient.
"She's probably gone to her mother's cottage up in the Cotswold's, it's been untouched for years but that would be where she would be... to be closer to her mother, where she's buried," Don rubbed his temple, "It's the cottage that sits between the valley between the century old oak tree, you can't miss it. That is where she would be. I can't think of anywhere else."
"Great, thanks," Javier turned for the door.
"You're in love with my daughter, aren't you?" Don asked.
Javier stopped in his tracks and looked over his shoulder, "I have to find her, she's all that I care for right now." And he stormed out.
"I'll take that as a yes, then," Don said to the silence.
Ruby stopped and sat down on the side of the road, she was engulfed with emotion and she couldn't stop trembling. Her feet could no longer carry her, she had blisters on her feet and she was tired, hungry and she wanted nothing more then to be in the cottage. Through fear and adrenaline she had run some miles but she couldn't do it any more, it was too far and she couldn't understand what had compelled her to start running. Her head fell into her hands as she let the tears fall down. She cried for her treatment, her pain, she cried for her mother, her father and she cried for escape. Her eyes felt like they could turn to water now. She felt like a wreck. She didn't want to hitch hike, she couldn't contemplate being in another situation with a stranger, she couldn't be there. She would just have to wait until her feet cooled down and the achenes in her muscles subsided before she made another attempt.
She sat staring at the view of the rolling hills and the sun all aglow and remembered times she spent in Tuscany as a child and as a grown woman. She would like nothing more then to be there now, a place where she was untouched, a place where she could be herself without the regular pressures of life. She made a mental note to go and visit again. She sat on the road, away from the traffic and the tiredness was kicking in, she can't fall asleep, not here but her eyes had other ideas. Her eye lids shuttered down like falling blinds and her head slowly drifted to the floor and the blackness swarmed her.
Javier was two thirds of the way, when something caught his eye. He slowed on the main road and when he etched closer, his heart leaped into his mouth. It can't be. No! He heard himself shouting to anyone. He did an illegal U-turn and parked a few feet away, got out of his car and run towards the motionless body lying on the side of the road. It was Ruby. He touched her face and she was cold, weather beaten by the elements. He feared the worst, that she had died all alone by the side of the road. Suddenly, her eyes opened slightly and she focused on him,
"Javier is that you?"
"Yes it is me, Rubes," he answered her, cuddling her closer to him. He felt her tremble and he swept her up in his arms and walked over to the car, "You're safe now and I'm going to take you home."
Javier had called her father and told him he had found Ruby and they had arrived at her mother's cottage a little over an hour ago. Her father had announced, he would be cancelling his schedule and was taking the helicopter down there to see her after he sorted out Lewis and Stowe at the police station. Javier could tell there was worry in the tone of the man's voice, as well as anger and betrayal. He hung up the phone and sat on the couch opposite Ruby's bed, she had been asleep since he had found her on the mile stretch road on his way to the Cotswold's. He rubbed his forehead and took a deep breathe, but he was more relieved then anything to have found her back. What had gotten into her, to think that she could run all the way here? But anyone in her shoes would have done the same thing- it was the thought of survival, she didn't know whether Christopher or Felix would be after her, so she'd fled but he'd made a silent vow to himself, that he wouldn't let any harm come to her, not now, not ever. Or however long she wanted to have him around. Javier sat up, when he heard Ruby stir in her sleep. She blinked her eyes open and her gaze slowly found his. She sat up and touched her head.
"Are they... have they..." she stammered, not wanting to comprehend his answers but having to ask anyway.
He was by her side before she could even think about it, "They are being charged as we speak, your father is with Ryker at the police station- both Christopher and Felix are not going to see the light of day."
She nodded in confirmation, "Thank you Javier."
"You have nothing to thank me for," he replied, touching her cheek, "And I must say, I'm very impressed by how you managed to tackle them and lock them up in your own house."
"They didn't try to escape?" she asked.
Javier watched her, despite the ordeal she had been through, he couldn't help but think, how beautiful she looked and he wanted nothing more but to kiss her and make sweet love to her, "They couldn't, you were like a tornado, you left destruction in your wake. They were too battered to even contemplate making an escape, great thinking with locking them in."
Ruby smiled, "I'm glad," she exhaled, "What's the damage on your family's restaurant?"
"Burnt to the ground, only the door is still standing," Javier replied, "There's one more thing... it was Felix and Christopher who started the fire."
"I know," her eyes became distant, "It was to distract you... so they could get to me... I'm so sorry Javier, I really am... let me pay for the damages."
"It's not your fault Ruby, none of this is your fault... those two bastards, those two sadistic bastards are to blame and don't worry, my family have been planning to renovate for quite some time now, better time then ever..." Javier laughed, to lighten the mood, "So you don't owe me or my family anything."
"I'm hungry, is there anything edible to eat?" Ruby asked.
"There's plenty, I restocked whilst you were asleep, let me get you some soup."
Ruby watched Javier walk towards the kitchen, she laid back down and closed her eyes, she could definitely get used to this. Javier fit perfectly in this set up, but did he feel the same way she felt about him. Once she was back to her normal self, she would ask him or at least try to broach the feeling to him. How was she meant to broach love to him, when she knew that now, that the killers were caught, his protection of her would now be coming to an end and she would never see him again. That feeling of loneliness hit her like a dumbbell. She could do loneliness, she had been lonely for so long, she had become accustomed to it, like an old friend but could she face loneliness now that Javier had been in her life and was going to be out of it.
"You have your thinking face on, anything I can help you with?" Javier asked, sitting the bowl of soup onto a lap tray with some bread and a glass of water, "So, what's up Rubes?"
"When will you be leaving me?" she asked plainly.
"Trying to get rid of me already?" Javier quipped.
Ruby shook her head and suddenly, Javier was kissing her, his hands were in her hair and he was touching her cheeks, the kiss was tender but it was also desperate. Javier drew away.
"You were saying?" Javier smiled.
"I... um... I just wanted to know when you would be leaving?" Ruby said, putting the soup tray aside.
"That really depends on you, doesn't it?" he said, taking his seat on the bed beside her.
"On me?" Ruby replied.
"Yes, on whether you want me around," he smiled.
"Of course, I want you around... I want nothing more to have you around Javier, I love you, of course I want you with me," she said simply.
Javier watched Ruby with utmost precision, her proclamation of love wasn't what he had been expecting... at most, he had been expecting her to say she liked him, not to go all out with those three beautiful words, that were making his heart do somersaults and making the adrenaline course through his veins. He simply nodded.
"And how do you feel about me?" she asked.