“Just leave me alone, okay?” you shot angrily at your ex-boyfriend, he had followed you today and now he was on your doorstep, refusing to leave.
“C´mon baby, I love you” he insisted, reaching out to touch your hand but you quickly moved your arm away, he won’t touch you ever again.
“No, you don´t, I broke up with you which means I don´t want to see you anymore” you added strongly, he really needed to leave you alone.
“Oh really? What do you think you´re going to become huh?! You´re nothing without me” he scoffed with a frightening grin before it faded and he violently hit the wall next to your head making you shriek in fear. He hissed in pain as he realized how strongly he had punched the wall, that was your opportunity to run away, you pushed him out of the way and started to run, you ran as fast you could, hoping he won’t follow you.
“Hey! Where do you think you´re going!” you heard him yell, he was probably already running after you, you needed a shelter, something, someone! You took a turn which lead to a busy street of the city, maybe that will calm him down, then you slowed down, trying to blend in the crowd, you walked fast to avoid drawing to much attention, you quickly turned your head to see if he was still following you , and unfortunately you spotted him, he was still quite far from you, you could still hide somewhere. You turned your head but heavily bumped into someone.
“Oh sorry I...” you started to apologize, you looked at the man, he was elegant, well dressed, his jet-black hair were smoothed back.
“Are you alright?” he asked you with a hint of concern in his voice, he was kind enough to see something was wrong, maybe he was your way out.
“I... someone is following me, he´s going to hurt me, can...can you help me please?” you begged him, quickly looking behind to see where your ex was, ‘please help me’ you prayed in your mind. The man quickly understood your distress.
“Alright, come in, it´s my theatre you´ll be safe here.” he indicated showing the place a few meters away, he placed his hand on your back protectively, looking over his shoulder for anyone suspect. You felt a bit of relief as he closed the door behind you.
“My name is Bruno” he introduced him with a kind smile offering his hand to you.
“I´m Y/N” you replied on a thankful tone as you shook his hand.
“Pleasure to meet you Y/N” he added before guiding you downstairs.
“Follow me” he instructed you, keeping his hand on your back, you arrived at what you assumed to be the backstage, obviously it wasn´t a theatre, it was more like a cabaret, the women there had the minimal attire, some of them were even topless, he guided you to an adjacent room, he made you sit on a chair.
“Is he going to be a problem?” he asked you as he bend down to be at your height, his eyes were serious and determined, there was no trace of fear in them.
“I don´t know, he´s... he’s crazy” you tried to explain, your voice trembling, but the emotion was still too strong, Bruno made a calming gesture with his hands.
“Okay, everything’s fine, you can stay here as long as you want, you´ll be safe” he assured you, by his tone you believed him, he really made you feel safe somehow.
“When are you leaving?” you asked him, you were afraid to come out of this place and find your ex waiting for you outside.
“After the shows tonight around midnight. Why?” you lowered your eyes, you didn´t want to bother him by asking this, he briefly ran his tongue over his lips as he understood.
“I can escort you to your home if you want, it´s not a problem for me.” he offered softly, a small smile forming on his lips to reassure you.
“I don´t want to bother you”
“No, no it´s fine...sorry I really have to take care of the rehearsals but please make yourself comfortable.” he finished on a definitive tone, you watched him leave, you smiled to yourself, he didn’t know how much he had saved you today, you sighed in relief, you ‘ll be safe here, at least for a few hours.
And you didn’t see time pass, there was so much going on even during rehearsals, the women came into the room you were in to change costume or put some makeup on. Some of them even tried to get to know you between their gigs.
“Hi! Are you new here?” asked a first one with curiosity, she had a kind and friendly smile.
“I´m not working here, Bruno just saved me earlier” you explained truthfully.
“What? Oh no you poor thing! Are you alright?” another exclaimed, visually checking your body to make sure you didn’t have any wounds or bruises.
“Yes, thanks to him I am” you answered, shyly lowering your eyes, a smile forming on your lips as you thought about your savior.
An hour after maybe, the show started, you went behind the curtains to watch the show; the style was pretty much like a French cabaret, which meant pretty women, half naked, dancing in a seductive way on some music played by the pianist. Despite this, the show was still enjoyable, the public essentially composed of men, didn´t touch them, unless they agreed to it first. And Bruno was a very good speaker, you wondered if he had written all he was saying or if someone else had. And then, when he wasn´t on stage, Bruno, would notice you and smile at you, it was bright smile, affectionate some would say.
The night finally came to an end and you were glad, you were tired and struggled not to doze off.
“Alright, ladies, you did a good show tonight!” praised Bruno with grin as he hugged his girls. He escorted them to the door.
“Rest well tonight and see you tomorrow!” he wished them as he looked at them leave.
“Goodnight Bruno!” they all wished him in unison, you chuckled, it was a real little family he had there. He came back to you, putting on his coat.
“I hope I didn´t make you wait for too long” he inquired with a polite smile.
“No, the show was quite entertaining actually” you admitted, his brows slightly furrowed together, he was surprised.
“I´m flattered, thank you... Shall we go?” you nodded eagerly, tightening your coat around your body.
However, you felt anxiety built in your chest as you stepped outside, it reminded you what had happened earlier, he knew your address, what if he was waiting for you at home? or what if he was coming inside it during the night to make you pay? You didn´t want to go to your home anymore, it was too dangerous.
“Are you alright? You seem preoccupied.” noticed Bruno, he looked at you in the eyes, trying to know what was going through your mind.
“I´m just afraid he might come back after me....” you confessed, your voice slightly shaking
“Do you know him?” he asked you, starting to understand the situation, you nodded, looking at your feet.
“He´s my ex-boyfriend...he doesn´t want to leave me, he harasses me” you sighed “he has hurt me before, that´s why I left him...” you explained, he knew everything now, he frowned.
“He hit you!? If ever crosses my path I swear he´ll regret to be born!” he raged; you were startled at how he lost his temper after what you said, was he quick to anger or simply very protective of women? But somehow it reassured you, at least you knew that if your ex came back you´ll have someone to protect you. He noticed he had startled you.
“Sorry, I didn´t mean to frighten you, I just don´t get why someone would hurt a woman like you.” he apologized, briefly looking at the side with embarrassment.
“No worries, I appreciate your concern.” you replied honestly, it really reassured you, you weren’t alone, someone cared about your well-being.
The both of you started to walk, you stayed closed to him, your shoulder constantly brushing against his, even though it wasn´t very appropriate to do that, but he didn´t seem to mind and you felt shielded.
“So, how did you ended up working here?” you asked after a bit, have a conversation was the least you could do to thank him.
“I was performing in the streets as a kid, tap-dancing, until the boss saw me and my cousin, she hired us. And one day as we were invited to perform on Ellis Island, I started to meet these women, coming here for a new life, but because they were alone or in a bad situation, they faced expulsion, I decided to offer them a way out by working at the theatre.”
“Oh, poor women...” you sighed, they went through so much, the war in Europe was truly terrible at the moment, and as they arrived in America in hope for a better life, they had to do this...
“Oh I do not force them to do that, but it´s what pays best” he quickly explained, afraid he had scared you.
“Still, it is terrible to end up selling your body and humiliating yourself after fleeing the war” you added sadly, Bruno swallowed down.
“At least they have a roof over their heads and food, and they’re under my protection; unfortunately, it’s the best I can do for them.” he responded; you felt conflicted about what he did, sure without him, these women would be on the boat back to Europe or dead in a back alley of New York but he probably didn’t imagine how terrible it was not to own your own body, you felt relief that they were consenting at least.
Anyway, you refocused your attention on your surroundings, he was extremely nice to escort you at this time of the night. But as you had almost reached your building, you noticed someone waiting at the corner of the street, his hat hiding his face but somehow, maybe his posture or just a feeling, you knew it was him, your heart started to beat fast, fear filling your whole being, you had to tell Bruno; trembling like a leaf your hand managed to find his, holding it tightly as you slowed down, he looked at you surprised by this physical contact.
“What is it?” he asked you intrigued, until he followed your gaze, and he realized that the man was your ex, Bruno tightened his grip on your hand, he brought his face closer to your ear.
“Listen, let’s pretend we’re a couple, taking a little stroll and turning around to go back home, I can hide you for the night.” he suggested in a murmur, you quickly nodded and hoped your ex didn’t recognize you. You snuggled deeper in Bruno’s embrace as he protectively passed an arm around your shoulders.
“Hey! Y/N!?” you jumped at the sound of your ex’s voice, he had seen you, you kept walking like you didn’t hear him, Bruno turned his head to look at him.
“I’m sorry man, you’ve mistaken my girl for someone else.” he spoke on a casual tone, you wished you were as good as him in this sort of situation.
“No, you’re lying, I recognized her!” you ex accused as he quickly came to stand in front of the couple you formed, his eyes locked with yours, harsh, he was furious. “Y/N come with me” he asked on a very calm tone, which you knew was a dangerous thing with him.
“Too bad, she’s with me, I’m her boyfriend, isn’t that right love?” replied Bruno first looking at the man with possessiveness in his eyes before gazing at you.
“Yes” you said trying to appear as convincing as you could, your ex ignored your answer his eyes focused on his enemy.
“You better get your hands off of my girlfriend.” he threatened Bruno, looking at him dead in the eyes; but Bruno didn’t obey, he stood his ground.
“Or what? Do you think I’m scared of someone like you!?” Bruno took a step forward, and pushed you behind him protectively.
“And she’s not with you anymore, get over it, she’s mine” he declared ferociously; then he took out of his coat a push dagger, holding it strongly between his finger, you could feel he was seeing red. But you ex was full of rage too, he didn’t have a weapon but he positioned himself for fight, he was a strong man and now you feared he might be able to take down Bruno, and he will beat him until death for touching you. Losing his patience Bruno attacked first, throwing a punch, his blade missing your ex of few inch, you brought your hand to your mouth, you didn’t want anyone to be hurt.
“Stop!” you called them, trying to make them break the fight, you deeply appreciated how keen Bruno was to defend you but he could end up in prison for that and you would blame yourself for it for the rest of your life. And the fight was getting even more violent, your ex had managed to throw a punch in the jaw of your savior, but Bruno was fast to replicate, crushing him against the wall, knocking his head hard against the bricks, your ex groaned in pain; Bruno’s forearm came on the man’s chest and the dagger under his chin, both were panting; your ex was now realizing the situation, he lifted his hand in the air in submission.
“You won’t touch her ever again!” he snarled loudly, his fist trembling, he was so close to do it.
“Bruno!” you called him strongly, making him snap out of his rage for your ex, you didn’t want your savior to be arrested “I think he understood, we should go before the police arrives” you added, trying to reason him.
“But he hurt you!” he objected on a harsh tone; he didn’t want to let the man go freely.
“Bruno, please...” you begged him, approaching him and putting your hand on his shoulder, it seemed to do its effect on him, his eyes softened as he looked at you before he turned his gaze to your ex once again, he brought the blade even closer, dangerously caressing his skin.
“If I ever see you near her again, you’ll be dead before knowing it.” he swore, his tone low, intimate and dangerous which made it even more frightening, the man swallowed down. Bruno slowly released the pressure he put on the man’s chest, then he took a few steps back but still holding his weapon ready, you had never seen your ex so scared, he didn’t even look at you and ran away, watching him get farther and farther in disbelief, were you finally free of him?
Bruno put his dagger away and smoothed back his hair, he looked back at you, a small smile started to form on his lips.
“Come on, let’s bring you to my place, you’ll be safe there.” you smiled back at his kind offer, he put his hand on the small of your back, quickly looking behind for any danger, he was being so caring and protective of you but in a good way, contrary to what you had been through before with your ex.
You finally arrived at his apartment, it was modest with a bedroom and another bed in the living room. Bruno took of his coat before offering to take off yours.
“Would you like something to drink or eat?” he offered you with a very sweet voice as if he wanted to be forgiving for something.
“No, thank you I’m quite tired actually.” you confessed, scratching your head with embarssement.
“Oh yes sorry! With all this stress you must be exhausted, you can take the bed here and I will sleep in my own bedroom, if it’s alright for you, unless you prefer a room with a lock?” he asked you eagerly, wanting to make you feel as comfortable and safe as possible.
“No, no, the living room will do, after all what you’ve done for me today, I think I can trust you.” you replied with a friendly smile, you looked at each other in the yes for several seconds, as you were lost in each other’s eyes.
“I will leave you to rest then.” he finally declared, snapping out of his thoughts, he gave you one last smile before heading to his bedroom.
“Bruno!” you gently called him, catching his wrist, he turned his eyes traveling between your hand on him and your face.
“Thank you, you’re a good man.” you told him with honest, your voice was soft, then you stood on your toes and delicately kissed his cheek, he closed his eyes and exhaled as you did so, your face stayed close to his as he made eye contact with you , his hand went up to lightly caress your cheek, his eyes were full of affection.
“I want to kiss you Y/N...” he cooed, his eyes traveling to your lips, a smirk started to form on your lips.
“Only a kiss then, let’s keep the rest for tomorrow.” you replied on a flirtier tone; slowly he leaned in and placed his lips on yours, it was so gentle, feathery like, you responded by putting a bit more pressure on his sweet lips, cupping his jaw; how could you say ‘no’ to such a caring man like him, you were willing to give it a try, after he had protected you like no one ever did before.