Taking a deep breath, I happily closed my eyes. I was glad to have some "Me" time after a tough week. While I stood on the wooden floor of the gazebo, I focused on the cool mountain air moving into my lungs, expanding my rib cage until I felt as though I might burst. Then I slowly exhale, mentally pushing out the negative thoughts that always float to the surface as I begin my meditation. I lifted my arms into the air to begin my Sun Salutation.
"So, is this the place we're supposed to meet for the walking tour?" The deep baritone seems to be right next to my ear, and I leap away from it, my heart suddenly racing. Speechless, I looked up and stared into wild brown eyes and a smiling face that seemed incongruous. A shiver raced down my spine. He towered over me, and his shaggy brown hair and unkempt beard dropped leaves and twigs as he moved. How the hell had someone so big moved so quietly? I felt another twinge of nervousness, recalling old news stories of a survivalist who escaped into the forest after slaughtering his family. Was this the same man? Had he been watching me?
"What are you doing here?" I asked, rubbing my hand over my chest to slow my heart. "This is private property."
"So this isn't the place for the walking tours?" Still smiling, the man took a step closer to me, invading my personal space, as if daring me to move away. My gut clenched, fear soaking every pore. Somehow, I knew that I was in a dangerous situation. Now I needed to get myself out.
"There are no walking tours on this mountain, Mister," I struggled to sound polite, my mind racing. The house was a good quarter mile away; I'd moved out here for the solitude. My phone was sitting next to my water bottle and towel on the other side of the gazebo. Would I be able to grab the phone while running past? Somehow I didn't think so.
"You sure are pretty," he breathed out, the fetid air choking me briefly. He stepped closer, and reached out to touch my hair. "I need me a wife, and I'm thinking that you'll do."
"NO!" I shouted in his face. In spite of my terror, I stepped forward and kicked out as hard as I could. My foot connected with his knee, there was a horrible snap, and my attacker screamed as he fell heavily. I took off running toward my house, my haven, my sanctuary, as fast as my legs and my lungs would carry me.
And ran right into a police officer, my momentum toppling us both to the grass. The police officer rolled us both until he was on top of me, his hand over my mouth as I was about to scream. Kind blue eyes looked into mine.
"Just breathe, Miss Collins," he said quietly. "I've got you. You're safe."
I could hear the sounds of gunfire over the sound of my heartbeat.
Prompt: "Taking a deep breath," and/or "jagged"