Matt opened the gate and approached Jake, who stood watching as Vince walked away.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
Jake’s skin was rosy, and his chest rose and fell dramatically. His hands trembled. Shock, Matt surmised. Jake turned to look at him. His eyes were wide, the pupils huge. “Yes,” he said, out of breath, “I’m… I’m fine.”
Matt pointed at his cheek. “Where he clocked you.”
“Oh.” He put his fingers to his face and looked at the blood on the tips.
“Why don’t you come inside for a few minutes? I’ll get you an Elastoplast for that.”
“No, I couldn’t. Sorry… We’ve caused you enough trouble already.”
“Hey,” he said softly, “don’t apologise. I couldn’t ignore what was happening. Come on in. You’re shaking, too. Take a seat until you get your breath back. Give your buddy time to get away. I wouldn’t want you bumping into him at the bottom of the road.”
Jake exhaled, and the tension left his neck and shoulders. “If it’s no trouble, I could come in for a few minutes—just until things calm down.”
“Are you hurting anywhere else?” he asked, leading Jake to the front door and inside. “From when you fell.”
“Only my pride,” he said. “If that counts.”
Matt smiled. “Nothing wrong with your sense of humour.” He led Jake to the kitchen at the rear of the ground floor and sat him at the table. Matt folded a piece of kitchen roll into a small square and gave it to Jake. “Press this tight against the cut. There’s a first-aid kit in my suitcase. I won’t be a minute.”
“No need,” Jake said, pressing the paper towel against his cheek. “This should be enough to stop the bleeding. It’s just a scratch. You’ve done more than enough already. Thanks a lot.”
Being so close to him, Matt realised what a great-looking guy Jake was, with those beautiful eyes and unblemished skin. His T-shirt was well-fitted, showing the fine shape of his chest and shoulders beneath. His bare arms were muscular, gently suntanned and covered in light-brown hair. Despite his serious expression, there were very few lines on his face. Matt guessed his age to be around twenty-five.
“Do you want me to call the police?” he asked. “I got most of what happened on camera—certainly, the assault part. With me as a witness and the video evidence, they’ll have enough to charge him. It’ll get him out of your hair for the weekend, at least.”
Jake shook his head. “I don’t want to involve the police. It will only make things worse.”
“That guy assaulted you.”
“I’ll live. It’s just a scratch. If we phone the police, it will only make Vince worse.”
Matt didn’t push it. He’d seen this so many times before when victims of violence didn’t want to pursue a case for fear of inflaming the situation. “So, who is that guy? Your boyfriend?”
Jake exhaled dramatically. “If only. That would make things so much easier. No, Vince is my husband—soon-to-be ex-husband. At least I hope so. That’s what tonight was all about. My solicitor wrote to him about the divorce and he got the letter this morning.”