Now that all three assailants were down, Cody saw red flashes. Holding the knife, hearing his defeated foe choking, a bitter taste formed in his mouth. His veins protruded, and his teeth clenched. These guys deserve to die.
But just as suddenly as it had come, the rage passed. He pulled the knife handle away and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. He had wanted to kill them all. What stopped him? Never had anger overtaken him so quickly and then let go of him so soon.
He took a step backward, then collapsed into a sitting position. The nerve endings in his right foot and lower leg were on fire, but that also passed within seconds. Thank God, I didn’t kill ‘em all.
Cody dragged all three perpetrators, barely conscious, into one pile. He pulled off their masks, checked them for more weapons, and then screamed into their faces a warning loud enough for everyone to hear.
“I could have killed you, but after Afghanistan I swore I’d never take another life. Nobody dies tonight, but if I ever hear that you’ve bothered this woman again, you will never even see me coming, and no one will ever know I was there. Do you copy?”
The witnesses stood in stunned silence and then broke into applause. Cody's eyes scanned the hallway until he spotted her. The alluring and courageous woman who had narrowly escaped a violent end was now crouching in a corner near the entrance to Auditorium Five.
Her neck and shoulders were dappled with red streaks — brush marks left by the ends of her blood-spattered hair. Tearfully attempting to compose herself again, she would not look Cody in the eye.
Cody collected her purse, cell phone, and flip-flops from bystanders who had picked them up. He walked toward her and reached out his hand, but she moved away, lowering her head and wrapping her arms around herself.
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