Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 13

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Anne sucked in a deep breath through pursed lips. The diner seemed normal enough. Though hardly bustling at this time of night, there were a couple of customers bent over slabs of pie and steaming mugs of coffee.

Settling into a booth, Anne smoothed her skirt. She had to be the only person on the planet who worried about how to dress for a meeting with kidnappers. Was her jacket severe enough to give her an air of authority? Were her flats sensible enough for her to make a dash for it if necessary? Was her jaunty beret too frivolous?

A waitress with sleepy eyes and drooping shoulders hovered at her elbow, ready to take her order and be done with her. There was no way she could stomach food at the moment.

“Coffee, please.”

The waitress nodded and shuffled away.

Anne fingered the folded pages in her coat pocket. At the last minute she had dumped the contents of her purse out on the kitchen table and grabbed only the documents, her coin purse, and her key. The last thing she needed was to be trying to keep track of a handbag.

What if they had drugged, Jilly?

What if they had hurt her in some way?

The waitress plunked a mug of coffee in front of her and Anne raised it to her mouth. The scalding liquid seared the roof of her mouth and she sputtered. Spitting it back into the mug, she snatched at napkins from the dispenser and wiped her mouth.

The waitress brought her a glass of cold water and Anne dabbed at the front of her jacket. There went any notion of trying to look like an authority figure. Not that anyone would have made that mistake anyway. Anne sighed and shoved the mug aside. She pulled a dime from her change purse to pay for it. Might as well leave the waitress a nice tip. Someone ought to benefit from this whole awful mess.

“Excuse me?”

Anne glanced up to find the waitress back at her elbow. “Yes?”

“Are you Anne?”

Anne’s vocal chords melted together in a flash of terror. She could do more than nod. Where were they? Was she being watched? Was this seemingly innocent woman a part of their gang?

“You have a telephone call?” The waitress jerked a thumb at a phone booth stationed at the back of the diner.

Anne nodded again. She slid from the booth. If her knees quaked anymore she would land on the floor.

With trembling fingers she raised the receiver to her ear. “Hello.”

“What took you so long?” The same gruff voice barked at her.

Anne straightened her back. “What do you want?”

“Go to Grand Central and hop the next train to East Orange. Don’t miss it or your pal will pay.”

Anne hung up and hurried from the diner. She pulled her change purse from her pocket and rifled through the meager contents. She had enough to get to East Orange, but she and Jilly would have to find another way home. Oh, well. They would burn that bridge when they came to it. If nothing else they could walk.

She took a step and stopped. She should call Erik. He could have men waiting at the East Orange station to follow her wherever they sent her next. They could charge in like the Light Brigade and save Jilly. On the other hand, the Light Brigade had ended in slaughter.

Anne looked back at the lighted diner window to see the waitress standing behind the counter. Her hand moved a rag in lazy circles over the formica, but her gaze was pinned on Anne.

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