I scanned my mental appointment book. “I don’t recall that happening. Did you get his name?”
“Yeah, said his name was Johnny.”
The box of cereal in my hand fell onto the counter. I turned to her slowly.
“I’m sorry, you saidJohnny?”
I closed my eyes, taking in a deep breath and planning my next words very carefully.
“Georgia, pack your things. We need to get the twins out of here. Now.”
She cocked her head to the side.
“What? Why? What the hell is going on?”
I raised my finger. “Not another word. You’re going to do exactly what I say, got it? ”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’d told him about the strange man and now he was barking commands at me in the middle of my house like I was some nurse at his hospital.
“You heard me.” He stood tall and firm, his eyes narrowed in total seriousness. Part of me had hoped that it was all some kind of joke. But the look on his face made it clear he wasn’t screwing around. “Go pack a bag right now for yourself, and I’ll put something together for the girls. But the important thing is that we leave rightnow.”
I raised my palm. “Hold the damn phone. First of all, don’t talk to me like that. I’m not a soldier to be commanded around.”
“You don’t get it,” he said. “This is serious shit.”
“Serious or not, you don’t speak to me that way. Second, I’m not so much as moving one step, let alone my little girls, without you telling me what on earth is happening.”
He formed his mouth into a flat line. I realized that Alex wasn’t used to people talking back to him like that.
After some serious thought, however, he spoke again.
“No, going out of the condo is too dangerous. I’d like to have you over at my place, but that’s too far of a drive.”
“And… you’ve got that water heater issue, right?” I asked sarcastically.
“Huh?” He cocked his head to the side in total confusion. “Oh. Yeah, that’s right.”
I snorted, shaking my head. “There’s no water heater situation going on, is there? I had a feeling you were hiding something from me, Alex. And now here you are, getting ready to do it again.”
“None of that is important.” He sighed, then took a look around the room. He stepped over to the window, tapping it. “This is solid—not going to be able to break through. Anyway, it’s probably a better idea that you and the girls stay here. I already gave this place a look over and it seems pretty secure.”
That was even more shocking news. “Wait, so you knew that there was a reason to ‘give this place a look over’? Alex, I’m going to repeat this, and I’m going to repeat it as clearly as I can…what the fuck is going on?”
He shook his head. “Trust me, the less you know, the better. Tell me where the last place you saw this Johnny guy was. Be specific.”
The way he spoke left little doubt that there was danger. All the same, the way he kept barking orders at me, the way he kept shutting me down like I was some idiot asking too many questions… it infuriated me.
“I’m not saying a word until you explain what’s happening.” Another question occurred to me. “Who are you, Alex? What were you doing in New York all of this time? Why did you come to Colorado?”
Once more, he formed his mouth into a flat line. “Those questions aren’t important right now.”