(To read from the beginning go Here.)
Anne jolted awake. She lay still for a moment, every inch of her tensed like a jack-in-the-box poised to spring. Rosy afternoon sunlight slipped through the cracks in the unfamiliar blinds. Jilly snored peacefully next to her on the bed.
Anne blinked against the sleep that threatened to overwhelm her again. Pigeons cooed and warbled outside the window. Traffic rumbled in the street, the lullaby of the city. Her eyelids drifted lower.
She had to wake up, to remember. Anne forced herself away from the bed’s comforting embrace. Barefoot, and wearing nothing more than her slip, she stood in the center of the room. Eyes narrowed she stared at the cheerful, but barren lemon colored wall.
Yes, that was it.
She had to find Erik. Her clothes from the night before were laid at the end of the bed and she wriggled into them in a flash.
Why hadn’t she thought of it before? Lacey Carew and the Adventure of the Notorious Note had been Carol’s favorite growing up. It all made sense.
Erik stood in his kitchen dumping coffee into the percolator. His movements were so slow she wondered for a second whether he was sleepwalking.
He whirled, coffee scattered, his right hand leapt to his left side in search of his holster.
“Whoa.” Palms out, she stepped back.
His cheeks flushed and his shoulders sagged. “Sorry, I’m not used to having people around my place.
“I need a lemon.”
“Um.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Now?”
“As soon as possible. It’s important.” Anne reached for the coffee. “I’ll do that, you go scrounge a lemon.”
“Can I shave first?”
“Not unless you want me to go do it myself.”
He shook his head. “I’ll go. I’ll go. I assume you don’t have any objections to me putting on shoes?”
“Not if you hurry.”
He grouched from the room, muttering something uncomplimentary about women and setting the swinging kitchen door to squealing.
Anne put the coffee to perking. The front door banged shut, and she scurried from the kitchen in search of her pumps. She had to hurry.
Her heels clicked on the stairs as she hurried up the stairs to her apartment. She tore through into the kitchen and knelt by the table. Her fingers brushed the underside of the table, searching, reaching.
Her heartbeat pounded in her ears. What if The Guide or one of his fellow bogeymen were lurking nearby in the hopes she was foolish enough to come back alone?
She reached further. There it was. Triumphant she pulled the taped envelope from beneath the table. She pounded back down the stairs and back into Erik’s apartment, locking the door behind her.
She leaned up against the door, for some reason she couldn’t quite catch her breath. Somehow they needed to solve this. Living with this fear for much longer would drive her batty.
The doorknob rattled and a heavy weight thudded up against it. Anne sucked in a breath so quickly that she half-choked. She sidled away from the door.
The knob rattled again.Her arm brushed against a lampshade, and she picked it up by the neck.