Second Glance

by Purple Lacey

Characters: Buck, Inez

Rating: PG for language and a little violence.

My thanks to MOG for letting me play with her toys.  

As was often the case, Buck Wilmington was the last patron Inez had in her bar.  Closing time was 5 minutes away and Inez was looking forward to being able to go home to a hot bath and a long sleep.  She really didn´t need to deal with Buck´s less than subtle advances right now.  Since the day the man had first walked into her bar he had been hitting on her, and just didn´t seem to know how to take no for an answer.  Inez had better things to do with her time than play the kind of games in which this shallow lothario specialized.  The more he pushed, the more she despised him.

“It´s closing time now, Buck,” she informed him in a neutral voice, “time for you to go.”

“Ah, Inez, darlin´,” Buck said in his most charming voice, “You wouldn´t really send ole Buck out into that cold, dark night alone would you?  Wouldn´t you rather make sure I got home safe and sound?  I´d be real grateful, darling… real grateful,” he finished running as suggestive finger down her arm lightly, and gave her his charming smile.

Inez pulled her arm away and stifled her temper.  “You´re a big boy, Buck.  I think you can make it home on your own.  You don´t need me to hold your hand.”

“Oh, now that´s where you´re wrong, darlin´,” Buck whispered. “I really do need you to hold me.”

Throwing down the rag she had been using to wipe the bar, Inez put both hands on her hips and scowled at the handsome man before pointing for the door.  “Out… NOW!”

Buck stood back, holding both hand in front of him in surrender.  “Okay, darlin´, I can see you´re not in the mood.  I´ll go peaceably.  Just remember me tonight in your dreams.  I´ll certainly be seeing you in mine.” 

Buck winked at the irate woman, gave her a smile and a tip of an imaginary hat, and walked out the front door. 

Inez counted to ten trying to control her temper and when that didn´t work, she kicked the nearest bar stool, toppling it over.  Sighing in disgust the woman bent over to pick up the overturned stool when she heard the front door opening again.  Thinking Buck had returned, she turned swiftly, ready to blast the womanizer again, when she realized the man that had entered the bar was a stranger.

“I´m sorry, we´re closed,” she said with as smile.

The man was of average height, but Inez could she the muscles bulging under his too tight shirt, and the look in his brown eyes when he looked at her made her uneasy.

“That´s too bad,” The man said roughly and finished with a leer, “then again… maybe it isn´t.”   

“I said you´ll have to leave now,” Inez tried to brazen it through, but she knew she was in trouble.

The man leaped at her suddenly, taking her by surprise and giving her no time to evade.   He grabbed her arm in a bruising hold and used his free hand to backhand her across the cheek.

Inez´s face exploded in pain, and she almost blacked out for a second.  Her captor used her momentary disorientation to grab both of her arms and cruelly twist them behind her, rendering her almost helpless.  He pulled her body so close to his she couldn´t maneuver her knee into place to attack his groin.  He lowered his foul-smelling mouth to hers and he swore when she turned her head away and his mouth landed on her cheek.  He jerked her arms higher up her back, causing Inez to scream in agony. 

“Behave, girlie.  You don´t do what you´re told and I´ll hurt you bad,” he threatened.

Inez continued to struggle as best she could as the man tried again to capture her lips.

“No!” Inez screamed again and again.

Suddenly Inez felt her attacker torn away.  She stood trembling for a moment in confusion, not understanding why he had released her.  She stared unbelieving as she saw him pressed up against the bar with 200 pounds of infuriated Buck Wilmington sending punch after punch into his face and torso.

“You sick, bastard,” Buck growled through gritted teeth.  “How can you treat a lady that way?  I aught do the whole world a favor and kill you right now.”  Buck continued to pound on the man that was by now too far gone to put up a pretense of defending himself.

“Buck,” Inez whispered.  Her voice was very low, but somehow Buck heard her trembling voice and paused to look over at her.  On seeing her standing there shaking, her arms around her middle with tears flowing down her face, he immediately dropped his hold on her attacker, and the man fell to the floor in an unconscious heap.  

He softly said, “Are you alright, Inez?  Did he hurt you?”  Buck slowly approached Inez, trying not to frighten her any more. 

She stared at him moment then shook her head.

He slowly reached out and took her elbow and guided her to a chair.  “Why don´t you sit here for a while, sweetheart,” he knelt down in front of her and ran a gentle hand along her check where a large bruise was already starting to form.  “Let me get you some ice for that, okay.  I´m sure you´re going to start feeling it soon.”  Buck put his hand on her knee and lightly squeezed it in reassurance, “I´ll be right back.  Will you be okay?”

Looking into the kind blue eyes gazing into hers with such concern, Inez swallowed the lump trying to form in her throat and nodded.

“I´ll just be a minute.  You sing out if you need me, alright?” 

Buck waited for her nod then rose and quickly made his way behind the bar.  Buck returned with a plastic bag full of crushed ice that he had wrapped in a clean bar towel.  He carefully placed the towel against her cheek and held it for a few minutes in silence.

“I need to call the police, Inez.  We need to report this.”

Inez reached up and took the towel from his hand and held it up to her face.  She nodded, but again remained silent.

Buck looked at her worriedly and raised a questioning eyebrow that she interpreted to mean was she was really alright.  Inez managed as tiny smile and said, “I´ll be fine.”

Buck returned the smile then rose to phone the police.

Over the next hour Inez was subjected to the questions of the police who came into response to Buck´s call.  Although the officers tried to be as sensitive as they could, she still felt like screaming at them to just leave her alone and let her forget the night ever happened.   All through the ordeal Buck was right there, holding her hand and easing her way through the police procedures.  Finally the last officer left and silence descended on the bar once more.

“Let me take you home, sweetheart,” Buck said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.  “You don´t need to be driving right now.  Are you sure you don´t need to stop by the emergency room on the way?  You might be hurt worse than you think,” he finished with a concerned frown.

“I´m really alright, Buck,” Inez tried to reassure him, “I´ll probably have a few sore muscles tomorrow and won´t want to look in the mirror for awhile, but I´m not really hurt…thanks to you.”  Inez looked up at her savior with grateful eyes.

Buck suddenly looked embarrassed, “Ah, shoot, honey.  Any man who had been there would have done the same.  God put women on this earth for lovin´, not hurtin´.  No woman deserves that.”

“But it wasn´t just any man that saved me… it was you.  Which reminds me, what made you come back to the bar?  I thought you´d left for the night.”

Buck gave a tiny, self conscious grin and replied, “Well… I… uh… I was kind of waiting in the parking lot to make sure you got to your car alright.  When I saw that guy going inside I figured you might need a hand so I came back inside to make sure he didn´t give you any trouble.  I´m sorry I didn´t get back soon enough.  If only I´d been a little faster you would never have gotten hurt.”  Buck reached out and brushed the bruise on her cheek.  “I´m really sorry I wasn´t faster, Inez.  I hate knowing you got hurt because of me.”

“You didn´t hurt me, Buck, and I don´t know how you could have gotten here any faster unless you had wings.  I´m just glad you stayed.”

“I always stay, Inez,” Buck whispered.


Buck shrugged his large shoulders.  “If I´m here, I always stay to make sure you get into your car okay.  There are a lot of creeps like him out there, and it´s dangerous for a woman to be out alone this time of night.  I worry about you,”  Buck finished in a whisper.

Inez started at the man watching her with crystal blue eyes.  The truth of his words was there for her to see.  All this time he had been watching out for her and she had never known.  Inez felt a flood of warm feelings fill her heart.

“Then I owe you another thanks for all those times you watched out for me and I didn´t know it.  Thank you, Buck,” Inez said softly and wrapped her arms around the man´s neck.

“You know you´re welcome, darlin´,” Buck wrapped his arms around her waist and returned the hug.  Both stood for a moment enjoying the embrace then Buck pulled away slowly.  “It´s late. We need to get you home.”

Buck kept his arm around her waist and led her from the bar, taking the keys from her hand and locking up behind them.  He turned her to his truck and opened the door then helped her inside.  He shut the door and made his way around the front of the and climbed into the driver´s seat.   The ride to Inez´s apartment was made with Buck making small talk and entertaining her with anecdotes of his friends on the job.

When they arrived, Inez sat quietly as Buck came around and helped her down from the truck.  He led her to her door and once again took her keys and handled the door himself.   Inez stepped inside and Buck followed her, closing the door behind them.

“Is there anything I can help you with before I go?” Buck asked.

Inez suddenly realized he was going to leave, and she would be alone.  The fear that she had felt in the bar after the assault started to overwhelm her once again.  Inez knew that she did not want to be alone right now.  She felt safe with Buck, and she wasn´t ready to let that feeling go.  No matter what price she had to pay for it, Inez knew she wanted him to stay with her tonight.

“Yes,” Inez whispered, “you can help me with these buttons.”

Buck looked at her in surprise as she started unbuttoning her blouse, then laid a gentle hand over hers, stopping her.

“Darlin´, you know there´s nothing I´d love more than to take you to bed and spend all night long making love to you, but if you ever come to my bed it has to be for the right reasons.  Right now you´re hurting and scared.  What you want… what you need… isn´t sex, it´s to feel safe, to know that you´re not alone. I´d be the lowest form of scum on this earth if I were to take advantage of you while you´re so vulnerable. 

I would never intentionally do anything to hurt you, Inez, and making love to you right now would hurt you because you´d wake up tomorrow regretting it.  You need comforting not loving… and that I can give you.”

Saying this Buck sat on the sofa and pulled the silent woman on to his lap.  He wrapped one arm around her waist and gently pushed her head down onto his shoulder with the other. 

“You´re not alone, Inez.  You´re safe, and I won´t let anyone hurt you any more.  You rest, darlin´.  Just relax and try to get some sleep, okay?  I´ll take care of you.”   Buck pressed a light kiss to the top of her head, and fell silent.  His hand started gently stroking her hair in a soothing rhythm.

Inez lay stunned against the big man´s chest.  The first time she had ever met him she had taken one look at his cocky grin, listened to his smooth lines and labeled him a shallow womanizer; someone she had not wanted to get to know.  All his repeated attempts to attract her attention had only served to reinforce that first impression, but if he had truly been the sexual predator she had perceived him to be he would never have turned down her offer. 

Inez was chagrinned to realize just how completely she had misjudged the character of this big hearted man.  Tonight´s events had opened her eyes and allowed her to see past the charming façade of the man to the caring soul that lay beneath.  This was a good man, a decent man., and someone, she suddenly realized, she really wanted to get to know better. 

Inez snuggled a little closer and felt the arms surrounding her hold her a little tighter.   Lying in his arms she felt warm, cared for and safe… and strangely at home.  Inez sighed silently.    So much time wasted because of a false impression.

“Buck?” she tilted her head back and looked into his sparkling blue eyes.

“Yeah, darlin´ ” her replied, angling his head back slightly so he could look at her face.

“What were you like as a child?”

Buck gave her his patented charming grin and began, “Well, my Mom always said I was born talking…”

Inez rested her head against Buck´s chest again,  for now content to listen and learn about the man holding her so tenderly.  She had a lot of time to make up for.

The End

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