Paige had just spent an afternoon shopping at the local mall. When the stores had closed, she gathered her bags of purchases and walked across the deserted underground car park. She mentally kicked herself for arriving at the mall so late in the day as the only available parking space was miles from the entrance.
It was dark and the empty car park was a shadowy, frightening place. A quick glance over her shoulder settled her nerves. The only sound was her high heels clicking as she walked.
Her feelings of unease grew as she arrived at her car. The car had a flat tire. She dropped her bags and stared at the deflated tire. She kicked it, then cursed aloud, holding her toe and jumping up and down on the spot.
Sighing, she glanced back at the mall entrance. She debated returning to the mall and calling her mechanically minded friend for help. She bit her lip. Shaking her head, Paige decided against it. She had seen her ex husband change a tire before. It didn't look that hard. Besides, she thought. I can probably change this stupid tire in less time then it would take me to backtrack back to the mall.
She opened the trunk, took out the jack and the spare tire and placed her shopping inside. She left the trunk open and removed her leather jacket.
Twenty minutes later she was beginning to regret her decision. Her hands felt like ice and she quickly discovered that no amount of cursing was going to loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire. She also discovered that she lacked severe upper body strength. She swore again, smacking the tire with an open hand.
“Do you need some help?”
Paige screamed. She turned around to see a handsome young man, no older then thirty standing behind her. She looked him up and down. He wore a black business suit and was clean cut. In his hand he carried an expensive, and sleek looking, black briefcase.
“I'm sorry,” he apologised. “I didn't mean to frighten you.”
Paige dismissed her scream of terror with a nervous giggle. “It's alright. I was spooking myself long before you came along,” she babbled. She coughed as the man smiled. “You know, I could use a hand,” she admitted, batting her eyelashes.
The man smiled and placed his briefcase in the trunk of the car. “Not a problem,” he assured her. “Shouldn't take more then a few minutes.”
And indeed it didn't. The man changed the tire with ease and put the tools and the flat away in the trunk, being careful not to disturb any of her shopping. He closed the trunk, grinned at Paige and dusted his hands off against his suit pants. “All done,” he said grandly.
Paige smiled, thanked him and offered to pay him for his good deed, but the man gallantly refused any compensation.
“Actually, if it's not too much trouble, I was wondering if you could do something for me,” he admitted as he looked at his watch. “I'm running late, and my wife will kill me if I'm late again. My car is parked on the other side of the mall. Would you mind driving me over there?”
Paige suddenly felt uncomfortable. She didn't want to seem ungrateful, but she couldn't bring herself to answer him directly. Instead, she teasingly asked, “Now, if your car is parked way over there, what were you doing over here? Do you go searching for damsels in distress?” She laughed, in hopes that it would make her feel less uneasy. It didn't.
The man didn't laugh and what made Paige even more terrified was, that for a brief moment she saw his eyes go cold and hard. It was only for a second before his beaming mega-watt smile returned. “I was with a friend,” he replied. “I didn't want her walking the car park at night. Something bad might happen.”
It seemed so plausible and was so gallant that Paige felt ashamed of her suspicious nature. She lowered her eyes in embarrassment, nodded and moved to unlock the car door.
But just as she was inserting the key into the lock, she noticed the man's shoes. They weren't the type of shoes that one would assume a business man to be wearing. In fact they were soft, rubber-soled shoes that one might use for...
Sneaking around without being detected Paige thought. Her sense of paranoia rose. Her hand shook as she withdrew the key. “You know, I'd love to help you, but I just realised I forgot something back at the mall,” she lied.
She turned and ran, not giving the man a chance to say anything. The only sound that she heard was her heels pounding the pavement as she ran back towards the lights. But even that was little comfort as the Good Samaritan could have been just a couple of steps behind her in his sneaky rubber-soled shoes.
Paige darted through the entrance and quickly found the mall security guard. She told him her story, admitting that she felt foolish, but she would feel a lot safer if he escorted her back to her car. The guard was more then happy to oblige.
Together they exited the mall and walked back to her car. The man who helped her was gone. Paige looked around wildly but there was no sign of him.
“I feel really bad now,” she told the guard. “That man is probably going to get chewed out by his wife because he's late again.”
The guard patted her shoulder, telling her that she did the right thing. “You can never to be too careful,” he told her, smiling. Paige nodded and started to close the trunk when she gasped.
The guard asked what was wrong as Paige held up a briefcase. The man's briefcase. “Fuck!” she said. “He's forgotten his briefcase.”
The guard took it from her, closed the trunk and rested the briefcase on it. He pressed the button near the latch and the case sprung open as he told Paige that surely the man would have some identification inside.
What was inside the case left both the guard and Paige in a state of shock. It suddenly dawned on Paige at how lucky she was. “What does he do with this stuff? Wait for someone's car to break down?” she asked, her voice suddenly high-pitched.
The guard shook his head as he removed a long cord of nylon rope and a knife. “I don't think so,” he said as he pointed to a tiny item that was hidden by the rope. Paige moved in closer for a better look.
The last thing she saw before she passed out was the missing valve stem from her flat tire.