She was in trouble. Deep trouble. She ran past a pair of over-flowing dumpsters, startling a stray cat from it's rummaging. The cat hissed at her before taking off in the opposite direction. She hardly noticed, all of her senses were focused on the pounding foot steps behind her. She could hear them laughing, enjoying the chase. This was just a game to them.
'Where ya' going, Roxie Baby?'
Their voices echoed through the dark alley, bouncing off the towering brick walls that surrounded her. She should have known better than to wonder into T1 territory. Everyone knew that Tito did not take to visitors on his turf. But she had been running on a lucky streak of loose pockets and hadn't been paying attention. The things she had been picking off of people were just too good to pass up. Now she was going to pay the price, with probably a lot more than a cut of what she had taken.
With all her attention behind her she hadn't been watching where she was going. She turned right into a dead-end. Trying not to let the panic paralyze her, she looked around frantically. The alley was dead-ended by another brick wall, no chain link fence to climb over. She glanced to the side of the buildings, no fire-escapes to save her sorry ass. Just brick, brick, and more brick. There was another large dumpster hugging up against a steel door. She breathed out sharply and ran over to the door, grabbing the handle she pulled. The door didn't budge. Cursing softly, she kicked the door in frustration. She didn't have a lot of time. The boys chasing her would be coming around the corner any second now. With one more wild look around she ducked behind the dumpster. She pressed her back against the wall and slide down into the shadows. She held her breath, listening as their foot steps drew closer. This certainly wasn't her first run-in with power-crazed gang bangers, but it definitely was the tightest spot she had been in. She knew this hiding spot wasn't going to save her. This was the only direction she could have gone and once they found out the door couldn't be opened, it would only be a matter of time until they found her.
'Down here', one of them whispered, as they both turned down the dead-end. Her heart was beating wildly in her chest. She put both of her hands over her mouth to keep from making a sound. 'Where'd she go, man?' She heard them try the door, it didn't open for them either. This was it. She had to remember to breath, holding her breath was making her light headed and she could not afford to pass out. Just then, what little light there was in her hiding spot disappeared. Her wide, green eyes darted up and collided with a sneering face.
'Hey, man! I got her. Over here!', the boy grabbed her by her crazy mane of curls and pulled her from behind the dumpster. For a split second she was too stunned to move, too terrified to act. The boy shoved her and she slammed into the dumpster. She cradled her shoulder and glared at them from behind strands of her hair. They were both smiling smugly, crowding her up against the dumpster. 'Tito won't be so happy that you were working his neighborhood.' He lunged at her in a fake that made her flinch. They both laughed. She was trying to keep herself from trembling, her mind whizzing a million miles a minute. She had to figure out how to get herself out of this. She stood up a little straighter, plastering a smile on her face. 'Maybe we can make some sort of deal. Who says Tito has to know?' She shrugged in what she hoped came across as non-chalant. 'I'll give you everything I made today, for your silence.' She toed a fine line here. There was no way she was going to give them everything, but she would give them something if they would just keep their mouths shut and leave her alone. The other boy reached forward slowly and played with a curl. 'Si, mammie. You'll give us all that and more.'
His tongue ran over his teeth in a blatantly vulgar motion which made her skin crawl. That's when she knew she wouldn't be able to talk her way out of this. With a deep sigh to fortify herself, she snapped into action. She lashed out wildly, striking the boy closest to her. He dropped her hair and fell back in surprise. With a wild banshee screech she lunged for the other boy, nails scrapped at flesh. She was yanked off of him and thrown roughly to the ground. 'Now your gonna pay, bitch!', the boy with the bleeding scratch marks yelled at her. They were both on her before she could scramble onto her knees. The street light glinted off a knife that one of the boys had pulled out of his pocket. 'You ready to pay up?' one boy breathed into her ear as the other one held her down. The knife was pressed to her throat and she heard someone unbuckling a belt. She started screaming, kicking her feet against the pavement.
Just then the steel door slammed open. Bright light spilled into the dim alley way, washing over them and making them freeze in place. 'What the hell is going on out here?' The booming voice was attached to a large dark figure. She squinted into the light, unable to make out any features. A trash bag clattered to the ground as the shape advanced. 'Get the hell off of her now!' The boy that wasn't holding the knife to her throat stood up. 'Hey man, this ain't none of your fuckin' business. Why don't you just go back inside?' Everything was still for a moment, and she thought maybe the guy would listen and leave her out here. She started struggling again, and the boy who stood up turned his attention back to them for just a second. That's all that was needed, the stranger rushed him and tackled him to the ground.
The boy that had been holding her jumped up to go help his friend. The knife sliced into her skin as he pressed up from the ground. She flinched but rolled away as soon as she was free. The three boys scuffled around on the ground for a few minutes, never once did the two gang-bangers have the upper hand. A few punches were landed before the two boys were squared off against the one. He had some how managed to position himself between them and her. And he stood his ground, staring them down. He was taller than the other two boys, but just as lean. She saw the muscle in his back ripple as he clenched his hands into fists. 'This isn't over, mammie. We'll get what's owed us one way or another.' The knife wilding boy sneered at her, then they both took off out of the alley.
For a long moment neither one of them moved, both breathing hard. She stood up from where she had been crouched and brushed her hands off on her jeans. She heard him turn towards her. 'Are you ok?' Her hands stopped brushing. Her gaze came up to meet clear blue eyes. He was staring at her intently, his eyes drifting over her wildly tousled hair, her dirt smudged cheek, and stopped at the cut at her throat. That quick sweep of his eyes had her skin flushed which made her very nervous. He was handsome in a boyish way, with strong features that were still slightly softened by youth. He had auburn colored hair that reminded her of rust. His brow was wide and large, which made his eyes seem deep-set and hawk like. His lips were full and looked very soft. Her eyes darted back up to meet his. With a little shake of her head as if to clear it she answered, 'Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks for saving my ass.' She wasn't above acknowledging that she had been in over her head. He shrugged with self-depreciation. 'What's your name?', he asked. Both of his hands were shoved in his pockets and he hadn't moved any closer to her. But his gaze had not moved off her face. She studied him for another moment. He looked like a 'good boy'..someone that didn't get into a lot of trouble. And in that case it was probably better that he didn't have anything more to do with her. But for some reason, that she didn't care to look at too closely, she couldn't just walk away. So she stepped closer and held out her hand, 'I'm Roxie. Roxie Valentine.'