We leave my father’s study, and I start up the stairs first, but he grabs me by the elbow.
“Wait, I’ll go first.”
“You think someone’s here?” The thought of there being an intruder who’s just waiting to jump out from the darkness and kill us makes me shiver with fright. This has been one helluva night, and it looks like it’s not nearly over.
“With the tight security Hugo has, it’s doubtful,” Anderson assures me, but something tells me he’s only saying that to keep me calm. “But, seeing what you’ve been through tonight, it doesn’t hurt to be
“Thanks,” I suddenly say. “For saving me, I mean. And, now for looking after me and my dad.”
“Oh, it’s fine,” he flashes a row of pearly whites at me, as his disobedient curls fall over the left side of his face and right into his eyes. His shakes his head, then rakes his fingers through his hair, like a swim suit model. “It’s all in a day’s work.”
“Well, still….” I smile.
“Don’t worry,” he tells me, sensing my fear, “everything will be alright.”
I show him where my room is once we reach the top of the stairs, and he enters first. A few moments later, he returns and gestures me in.
“All clear,” he announces.
I go in and grab my old backpack. Most of my stuff is in my apartment, but luckily I left some mostly unworn clothes here, which will do just fine under the circumstances. I stuff a few sweatshirts, a pair of sweatpants, some socks and underwear into my backpack, then turn to Anderson.
“All done?” he asks me. I nod. “That was quick.”
“Not like I’m going on a holiday,” I say a little more snarkily than I planned. “Sorry.”
I immediately bite my lip. It’s not his fault. And, he’s been so kind and sympathetic, unlike his partner.
“It’s OK,” he assures me. “You’ve been through Hell tonight. You’re allowed to snap.”
“But, not at you. You’re the least to blame for all this.”
“Don’t worry, I’m thick-skinned,” he winks at me, and before he manages to turn around and exit the room first, my cheeks blush poppy red.
He shows me another smile, and politely chooses not to comment anything else. We both get out of the room, slowly descend the stairs and head out to the front door. This house, so vast and grand, looks like a trap from this perspective, and I always felt safe there. Funny how things change in a blink of an eye. But, if anyone should know that, it’s me.
My dad and I get into the police car, and watch as the headlights disperse through the darkness in front of us, illuminating the way ahead.
The only question is will this light be enough to save us?
After we drop my father off at the police station, and Fynn settles everything with the two cops that are going to keep my father safe during his business trip, we continue our way to the safe house. Fynn is driving, and looking at his profile image from the back seat, I can see the sharp outlines of his clenched jaw, the veins in his lower arms and hands jutting as he firmly grasps the steering wheel.
Anderson, on the other hand, seems jovial. If he feels any concern or fear about this whole thing, he’s doing a great job of hiding it. Occasionally during the trip, I want to ask something, but I stop myself, because I’m worried Fynn might answer it first, and I don’t really feel like talking to him. So, I remain quiet, and eventually doze off.
At some point later on, I’m woken up by someone’s gentle nudge on the shoulder.
“Hey, Maddie?” The voice is soft, soothing, it almost blends into my dream. “Wake up, we’re here.”
The voice continues to stir me, and I finally open my eyes to find Anderson’s face a few inches away from mine, his wide grin aimed straight at me. I clear my throat a little, as I pull back, afraid I’ll blush again. He gets the hint and does the same. We’re at a safer distance now, but his smile is still there. He offers me his hand, and I take it, exiting the car like royalty, but not really feeling like it.
“So, this will be home, sweet home for the next month or so,” he says, as we both gaze at the inconspicuous looking house in front of us.
When they said a safe house, I guess my mind conjured up images of bars on the windows and alarms, and all those other things that are supposed to make a house safe, but I see this place has none of that. It’s just a house, one you’d pass by without even checking out twice. Maybe, that’s the whole point exactly.
“It’s much better on the inside,” Anderson adds, as if he senses my disappointment. “I know it’s probably not what you’re used to, but…”