“Ah hell, it’s Sophia,” the cop said as he crouched next to the woman in Mason’s arms.
“How do you know her?” Mason’s head jerked up and he eyed the cop.
“She’s been looking for her brother again. He keeps running away from his foster home. She’s been searching for him the last four nights. I told her it wasn’t safe.” Mason looked down at the unconscious woman and agreed with the patrolman’s assessment.
“How much longer before the ambulance arrives?” Mason clipped out the question.
“How bad is she? What happened?” The cop nodded to where Mason’s jacket was covering Sophia’s torso.
“They just got her top off, but they cut her pretty badly on the arm. I’ve got her bandaged and most of the bleeding stopped. She’s going to need a shit-load of stitches. What’s the ETA on the ambulance?” Mason shifted her gently as he again gave the cop a penetrating stare.
“It’s about fifteen more minutes. There was a bad pile-up on the Five Freeway with fatalities. You did good work tonight. You military?” the cop asked as he assessed Mason.
“I was Navy too,” the cop said. “You okay with her while I work on getting these two assholes taken care of?” The cop nodded towards the two thugs who were sitting handcuffed in the alley and being looked after by his partner.
“I’ve got her.” Mason looked down at Sophia again ensuring she was okay. “What about the girl who made the call?”
“What girl?” the cop asked.
Mason looked around and realized the girl and his phone were long gone.
“There was another girl who looked like she’d been beaten too. She got me to come over here to help.” Mason gave the information like he was reporting to his commander.
“She must have taken off after she called for help,” the officer said.
“Oh no,” came the soft words. Mason looked down and saw green eyes clouded with worry looking up at him.
“What? Did you say something Sophia?” he asked.
“The girl is gone? She’s hurt.” It was hard to understand her through her bruised mouth.
“Settle honey, you’re hurt. You need to stay calm and rest until the ambulance comes.” Mason watched as she struggled to get up, and then cried out in pain. She collapsed against him. Fuck, it had to be her shoulder. He’d already taken off his shirt and used it as a bandage and a tourniquet earlier. He eased back the leather jacket that he had placed over her to see if it had come loose.
“Don’t move again, okay Sophia.” God, when would the ambulance get here?
“You’ve got to find the girl I think they cut her too. I’ve got to get up, I need to look for Billy. Please don’t hold me down. I need to get up, let me up,” she damn near screamed the last few words. Mason realized she was delirious. The cop looked over at him and he shook his head.
“Sophia, my name is Mason. We’re going to get you to the hospital. Do you understand me, honey?” He waited to see if she was tracking. She finally nodded. “Good, after they’re done taking care of you, you can come look for Billy again.” She relaxed a little, and he relaxed a little as well.
“And the girl? Can I look for the girl too?” she begged him with big eyes.
“Yes, you can look for the girl too.” He stroked the hair from her forehead.
“Do you promise Mason?” She tried to lift her arm to grab the front of his jacket and let out a small shriek of pain. “Why does it hurt?” He saw her start to tremble and wrapped his jacket closer around her ensuring it was snug so she couldn’t move her arms any longer.
“Are you warm now?”
“Yes. Will I be able to go to work and then look for Billy tomorrow?” It took a moment for him to understand her, and when he did it took him a few seconds to formulate a response other than ‘Hell No’.
“I think you’re going to be in the hospital for at least a couple of days.”
“No, I hate hospitals, don’t make me go to the hospital.” He watched as tears dripped down her temples into her silky blonde hair.
“Honey, you have to go you’ve been injured. A doctor has to help you.” She was trembling so bad he was worried she was going into shock.
“I can’t afford a hospital. Can you take me home?” God, she was breaking his heart.
“Let’s see what the doctor says first.”
Mason heard the siren and Sophia must have heard it too. Somehow she pushed off the heavy leather coat. “No, no ambulance, no hospital. I have to find Billy.” She tried getting up one last time and groaned as she put pressure on her cut shoulder.
“You’ve got to stay still.” He couldn’t believe the compassion this woman had, here she was bleeding and bruised, almost raped, and her entire concern was for her brother and the other girl. She was beautiful inside and out.
Just then she gripped her head where he saw a large bruise and lump forming. He saw her green eyes begin to glaze over. “Honey, stay with me.” He brushed his fingers tenderly along her cheek willing her to stay awake.
“Mason’s a nice name,” her words were slurred.
Just as the EMT’s arrived she passed out.