Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 19

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Anne glanced down at Jilly. There was no way she could continue the cat-and-mouse game with her injured ankle. But maybe she could make one short dash.

Anne risked another peek to gauge the car’s distance and speed. They’d only have one chance. Tugging on Jilly’s hand, she hauled her friend back up the stairs.

“Wait.” Her whispered caution wafted on the air, barely discernible above the grumble of the car’s engine.

The car grew nearer, prowling the streets for trouble. It was about to find some.


Half-crouched, Anne sprinted from hiding. She waved her hands trying to draw the driver’s attention. Knowing the men looking for them were just across the street, she couldn’t quite bring herself to scream. Jilly had no such compunctions and at the sound of her blood-curdling shriek, the police car skidded to a stop.

Still crouched to avoid getting shot, Anne rapped on the driver’s side window. “You’ve got to help us.”

“Men are trying to kill us.” Jilly rested against Anne’s back.

The officer started to open the door.

“No!” Both Anne and Jilly blurted.

“Please take us with you.”

In a breathless rush, Anne spilled their story.

The officers glanced at one another. They said not a word, but seemed to communicate with one another regardless. Shaking his head, the driver opened the door for them, and they climbed inside.

So far, so good. They had made it. Surely the goons wouldn’t risk firing on a police car.

“So, uh, where’s this place where you were held?”

Anne leaned forward. “It’s just down the street there.”

They cruised down the street the way Anne and Jilly had just come. Dark shadows dodged and scurried before the car’s headlights. Hunched low in the back seat, Anne peered out the window. Every house in the row looked the same. Which one held Van Dyke and his hoodlums?

She glanced over to Jilly. Her friend shook her head. She didn’t recognize the house either. Anne rubbed her forehead. The cops were already giving each other the lets-humor-the-overwrought-females look.

They made three passes up and down the street, but Anne couldn’t say with any certainty which house they had come from. It was somewhere in the middle, and that was hardly helpful.

“Why don’t we take you ladies back to the station and we’ll have one of the detectives take a report.”

Defeated, Anne nodded.

Together she and Jilly spilled the story to a skeptical Jack Morris. She couldn’t summon any enthusiasm for the tale. It sounded far-fetched as it tumbled out in disconnected strands. Shaking her head she asked to make a phone call.

Erik answered on the first ring.

Weariness hit her like an anvil landing on Daffy Duck. She couldn’t even summon any rage when Detective Morris effectively patted them on the head and sent them on their way with a few bucks for the train ride back to New York.

The sun was rising, looking entirely too cheerful for Anne. Jilly refused to go to the hospital to have her ankle checked out. If possible, she looked even more wrung out than Anne felt.

Erik met them at the station. The expression on his face boded unpleasant conversation to come. He refrained for the moment, however; and Anne wanted to kiss him for not jumping down her throat.

Instead, after one look at them, his eyes turned tender and he shepherded them out to his car. Granted, it was a rattletrap old Plymouth but it was miles better than the subway.

“You can’t go back to your apartment. Since they know where you live it wouldn’t be safe.”

Anne let her head fall back against the seat. She heaved a sigh that started all the way down in her toes. She couldn’t make any more decisions. “Where are we to go?”

“We’ll sneak you into my apartment.”

Anne cracked open a single eye. “Doesn’t the secret service have some sort of safe house or something?”


“So, what? We don’t rate?”

Erik pretended to focus on the nearly non-existent traffic. “No, it has nothing to do with you.”

Anne shook her head. She was too tired to try to work out what he meant.

He cleared his throat. “It’s me. I’m, um, relatively new to the agency. So I don’t have much—any clout.”

She narrowed her eyes. So that was why he hadn’t pushed her harder. “You’ve been investigating this all on your own, haven’t you?”

The furious flush that seared his cheekbones was all the answer she needed.

“How did you swing the apartment?”

The tiniest grin tugged at the corner of his mouth. “I’m new to the city. I had to find someplace to live.”

At the back of her mind, the sense that she ought to be put out with him pricked her, but she couldn’t summon the energy for an argument. At least not that one.

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