Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 23

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Anne patrolled the room like a sentry. 10 paces, 6 paces, 10 paces, six paces. Turn and march. Arggh! She ought to be doing something.

She had already been upstairs once. What would one quick trip hurt? Even if the gang were watching the building from outside, they wouldn’t see her slip up the stairs. There had been no sign of any sinister presence in the street in any event. She had spent enough time peeking through the curtains to know that much.

Head close to the front door, she eased it open an inch. She pressed her face closer, catching the whiff of floor wax and motley cooking smells. Nothing stirred in the hall. She opened the door another few inches and stuck her head out.

The tinny sound of radio jazz slipped under the door of Mrs. Gardiner’s apartment to shimmy down the hall. Otherwise there was only the dry, empty silence of a shell when the hatchlings have departed.

She was creeping herself out. Smiling at her silliness, Anne opened the door resolutely and plunged up the stairs. Her fingers trembled with pent up energy as she piled crisp white paper atop her lovely typewriter case and topped the whole with the precious outline.

Arms filled, she backed through her apartment door and hurried back to the stairs. Her heart pumped like she was in an Easter egg relay race. Giddy energy piled up inside her until she nearly giggled. Yes, she definitely needed something to occupy her mind.

Breathless and racing she barreled around onto the landing and onto the next flight of stairs before realizing someone was coming up.

“Sorry!” Self-consciously she took a step back.

The man raised his head and their gazes met.

It was Handsome.

Anne hurled the typewriter at him. He cast up an arm to block the heavy missile. A thud. A grunt. White paper took wing like a flock of pigeons, fluttering and flapping. Anne whirled and dashed back the way she had come. Stupid. Stupid. She should have stayed put.

Her feet clattered on the stairs, but a heavier tread was starting up behind her. She flung herself into her apartment and through the kitchen. For the second time that day she swarmed toward a fire escape.

She pried at the window lock with sweat-slicked fingers. She had meant to lock trouble out but had only managed to lock herself in with it. A half-formed prayer caught in her throat. The catch grated open a quarter of an inch. A bit more.

A heavy hand grabbed her upper arm. She lashed out with her foot but he seemed ready for her, and sidestepped the attack.

“Hold it, sister.” An ugly blunt nosed revolver was gripped in his other hand.

Anne stilled. Her eyes found Handsome’s face, only he didn’t seem nearly so good-looking this morning. His eyes were bloodshot and stubble leant harsh definition to the planes and angles of his face. Gauntness hung about him as if he had lost twenty pounds overnight.

“Okay. Okay.” She winced as his grip tightened on her arm.

Tears brimmed in his red-rimmed eyes. “Why’d you kill Carol?”

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