the wind blew cold against his bare arms, but he paid no mind. he thought of the fur coat waiting for him at the local boutique, the feel of animal skin against his own thrilled him. he sniffed at the air, sweet floral notes taking over his senses. turning his head, he smiled. she was definitely ready. holding out his hand, he pulled her close. "come," he said.
she looked at him inquisitively and he fought frustration.
"we need to hurry, ariana."
biting her lip, she nodded and took his hand. if he wasn't mistaken, he caught a brief sigh before they took off for their destination. he frowned for a half second before brushing away any ill thoughts. he mustn't worry about trivial matters when the bigger task waited for them.
they got to the town square in plenty of time. she shivered against his touch and he squeezed her arms a little harder. the roar of the crowd soon overwhelmed the sound of her heels crashing against concrete and the man closed his eyes, taking in the vibrancy.
"the time is near!"
his eyes flew open at the startling voice rising above the noise. he looked around to find the culprit, letting go of ariana's arm. the source came from a feeble man, standing on a cardboard box. the ubiquitous town prophet. a sardonic smile curled across his face and he shook his head. he watched the mangled hair wrap itself into the prophet's mouth as he choked out his words, ignoring the laughter surrounding him.
"end is coming! take heed, my brothers and sisters. turn from your ways - He won't tarry long." his eyes were wild - his fingers shaking in the face of every passerby.
"fool," the man muttered under his breath and turned toward the girl. he had no use of the prophet's message. he'd probably find him in the local pub tonight, drunk and speaking other nonsense. religion was for those weak enough to believe they needed a Savior. looking at his watch, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her with more force than usual. a small cry escaped her lips and then she gasped. he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and squeezed harder.
"don't cause trouble, sweet ariana. you're almost free." her gaze darted to his face and away before he added "at least from me."
the pimp meeting him on the corner of 5th and yuthe waved his hands and the man chuckled. oh yes. another one passed from his hands. a fur coat was not the only thing he would get with the money this small little princess would garnish for her innocence.
but, what he didn't know was why ariana gasped. long giving up hope, she fought the feelings of despair eating its way through her heart. though young, she knew enough to understand what this man wanted her to do was wrong. and earlier, when he let go of her arm to listen to the man hollering from the weird and feeble stage, she saw it.
there...across the square. a small group gathered around a table. they spoke earnestly. but it wasn't the group that captured her attention - it was the man standing behind them, he was huge! and there was this brightness surrounding him - she could not turn away. this was a good thing, because he was looking right at her. holding her gaze, he leaned forward and whispered in the ear of one in a business suit who stopped mid-sentence. it was then she realized the group was praying. their heads were low and their hands were holding their faces. they looked distraught but the brightness of the man behind them covered them all in a dream-like hue - golden rays turned clear. her eyebrows shifted, what was the man doing? gingerly grabbing the chin of one in front of him, he turned his head toward ariana.
realization dawned on business suit's face and he jumped so quickly his chair fell backward, and this is where ariana gasped.
because just as soon as the chair began to fall, the man behind the group disappeared.
there was no time to waste. no time to wonder if Rescue just sent word for her release. but she closed her eyes as fingers squeezed tighter around her arm. she bit her lip to avoid crying out, but not before stealing another glance toward the table.
everyone was gone. she tried to understand, but her feet did the stumbling her mind felt. she tripped over her feet and fell into the one leading her to hell.
"ariana. do not make me speak of your klutziness. grace is essential" he turned his head and smiled as sweat began to drip down his forehead. from experience, she knew he sweat despite the cold because he anticipated something great. she nodded her head and avoided his eyes - wondering what happened to the group gathered around the table, and the man bright with iridescent color.
it happened so quickly. burly arms wrapped around her, pulling her from the hold of her captor. stuttering with rage, his english tripped over itself as he tried to scream obscenities and warnings to those who apprehended him. there was no fight. no fanfare. in one second she was bound, the next - free. she watched as men carried away the one who held her against her own will - the one who stole so much - the one who laughed at her tears and gave her scars no one would see.
slowly she took in her surroundings and turned to face her Protector. he smiled at her and brushed the hair out of her eyes. she gasped for the second time that morning and tears immediately fell from her eyes.
it was the man behind the chair. the One who showed the group where she was - the One who disappeared. her Rescue.
He wiped the tears from her cheeks. "you're safe now, ariana."
and she collapsed against His strength, knowing this to be true.