Jed knew everything about the woman. He had been watching over her for almost four months and it felt as though they had been friends since childhood. He knew that she must think he was her guardian angel. One day, he did not know when, Jed would summon enough courage to speak to her. Every night she stood beneath the same hanging lantern, bathed in a halo of warm amber light. Every night Jed watched her from the shadows, her figure perfectly silhouetted against the waters of the river as they glimmered in the moonlight.
He knew it was not right that she was oblivious to her saviour’s identity. On several nights he had seen her being robbed and beaten by crooks or manhandled by the local constables. He had immediately done all that he could to save her life, praying feverishly for Him not to take her so soon. She had not died yet.
But now a new threat was drawing near. It came beneath a wide-rimmed hat and heavy overcoat, lingering in the shadows at the edge of the circle of light. Jed prepared his mind for the prayer he would soon be offering, but there was no need. The woman turned towards the stranger, laughed shrilly at something he said and threw her arms around his neck.
“Just business, no need to worry.” Jed muttered.
The pair began to trade fleeting kisses and he felt blood rush to his cheeks. He was not angry or jealous, merely embarrassed to be witnessing such a private exchange.
A rough leather shoe clapped against the hard cobblestones behind him. The sound was faint but it carried clearly to Jed’s ears. He began to turn as the sharp thing bit into his neck. It dragged across and a wave of warmth spread down his chest. A red mist hung in the air. Jed tried to ask what was happening but found he could not speak. He crumpled to the ground.
The crimson blush of life drained out of Jed’s face, replaced with the ashen pallor of death.
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