She leans back, giving me those big blue eyes. They almost look too big for her face. “You saved me.” Her words are awed, like she can’t believe it.
Her face lights up. Those dimples I was worrying about peek out and make her look even younger and more innocent than she already is. Hell, she is beautiful. Her smile does something to me, soothes the raging feeling I’ve been having since she went missing. It makes me ache to hold her forever.
“I heard once, if you save someone’s life that you’re responsible for that person.” She leans in a little, looking me right in the eyes. Eyes that can see down to my soul, or at least that’s what it feels like. “Does that make me yours?”
I step out of the shower, toweling off and looking myself over in the mirror. As the steam dissipates, I see myself through the haze. The tattoos across my chest and down my arm come into view.
I had it done two years ago, and every day it reminds me of that moment. The moment I saved her. The tattoo starts off as a garden of flowers and leaves on my chest, and then as it goes over my shoulder, it begins to catch fire. The flames roll down my arms, burning the garden in their path. But the flowers stay. Their beauty remains, even in the dark ash, and I’m reminded of the brave girl who said I was responsible for her from that day on.
I’d worked as a detective in the special victims unit, but after my last case I’d had enough. After saving Eden and enduring the inquiry into it afterwards, I was released from the department. They’d deemed that I had acted too soon in killing her kidnapper, but nobody would prosecute me for it. My captain’s hands were tied, and I decided I wasn’t cut out for being a cop anymore. I knew what I did that day was right, no matter what anyone told me. They wanted to move me to another department, but I decided to take early retirement and start my own security firm. I opened Black Guard Security right after I left and haven’t looked back. I knew the day that Eden fell into my arms that I’d made the right decision. I’d saved that girl's life, made sure that man never haunted her dreams, and that was worth everything. I’d made it so she never had to worry about that man coming after her or have to sit in a courtroom and relive that day.
I throw on my work shirt, which is just a black polo with my logo on it. I’ve got five guys who work for me, and they can handle the daily ins and outs, but I like being there and knowing how all our projects are progressing. I pull on some jeans and boots, grab my keys, and head outside. Before I get to my car, I decide to check the mail. There are a few pieces inside, so I grab them and toss them onto the passenger seat next to me.
When I get to work, I grab the mail and go to my office. Throwing the stuff on my desk I sit down and start going through the calendar, and something pink and glittery catches my eye.
I see the bright card peeking out from under my mail and pull it out. My name is written in pretty script on the front, and I turn it over to see who it’s from. When I read her name, I nearly drop the card.
Quickly I tear it open, careful not to damage the contents but desperate to see what’s inside. When I start to read, I can feel my smile taking over my whole face.
Dear Mr. Black,
You may not remember me, but I’ve never forgotten you. I’m Eden Mathews, the girl you saved nearly two years ago. I wanted to write and tell you that you’ve meant more to me than I could ever explain. I’d like to invite you to my high school graduation ceremony and party afterwards. I wouldn’t be achieving this goal if it wasn’t for you, and it would mean a lot to me if you were there.
All the details are on the card inside. I really hope to see you on Saturday to thank you in person for saving my life.
I hold the note and think about the sixteen-year-old girl I held in my arms. She asked me if she was mine that day, and I never answered her. She was too young to understand what that meant, so I let her go with her family. I never thought I’d get something like this in the mail, and though I probably should write her back and tell her that I’m unable to attend, I know I’ll be there. Just to simply lay my eyes on her again.
Leaning back in my chair, I picture the girl I saved. I’ve wondered enough over the years to look in on her family. I never bothered Eden, because I thought she’d been through enough and deserved her privacy. But I checked on her parents to make sure they were still doing okay. Eden’s stepfather, John Bolton, is very well off. He exports manufactured goods throughout the southeast, and he’s made a name for himself. We determined it was most likely the cause of the kidnapping. Their family was known to have money, and even before we located Eden, he was willing to pay whatever ransom they asked. It struck me as odd afterwards that they seemed happy, but not very affectionate with their daughter. I just pushed it off, however, thinking that they weren’t that kind of family. Everything that I’ve found on him and Mrs. Bolton has been fine. They continue to do well. Last year he ran for the Senate and won. From the outside it all looks perfect, but yet I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I need to see Eden. I always go with my gut, and I know I have to see her again. It’s almost like I’ve been waiting and the time has finally come. Why now, I don’t know.