I’d been a fool for leaving Georgia alone. I could only hope that it hadn’t been the mistake of a lifetime.
The twins were sleeping peacefully, and I allowed myself to feel a little bit of pride. It’d taken me a hell of a lot of practice to learn how to feed them both at the same time, but I’d done it. Giving both of the girls their bottles collectively meant that I could feed them, then get them to bed at around the same time. Coordination was king when you were dealing with twins.
I shut the door to the nursery after taking one last, lingering look at my girls. The moment it was closed, all I could think about was Alex. I was still pissed at him. I had every right to be. He’d all but said that he’d lied to me about his background and didn’t seem to respect me enough to explain the truth even when I had him dead to rights.
All the same, there was no doubt in my mind that he’d meant it when he’d said that our safety was at the top of his list. Part of me wanted to call him to make sure he was alright. What if he’d run into the man from the store?
He’d only been gone for an hour, but it felt like it had been several.
I said the words out loud to myself before hurrying into the living room and over to my phone on the coffee table.
The second I reached for it, however, a knock sounded at the door.
I froze where I stood, as if I’d only imagined things. After all, no one had rung the buzzer to be let in.
Another knock sounded, this one more intense than the first.
What if it was Alex? Maybe a neighbor had let him in. A smile took hold at the thought, and I rushed over to the door and pulled it open.
It wasn’t Alex, however. It was the man from the store, the one with the gaudy suit, unsettling smile, and chubby hands covered with rings.
“Hey there,” he said. “Is Alex home?”
“What are you doing here?” I asked, stepping back a bit. “And yes, he is.”
The man craned his neck to the side, as if listening for a sign that Alex was indeed there.
He smiled that creepy smile. “You and I both know he’s not. It’s just you and those sweet babies in there. So much the better, yeah? I was hoping that you and I might have a little talk.”
“How the hell did you even get into the building?”
“Amazing what you can do with a bribe here and a threat there.” He waved a chunky hand dismissively.
He took a step into the condo, but I quickly shut the door as hard as I could. The man grabbed it halfway through, holding it open with surprising strength.
“No, no, no, sweetheart. That’s not going to do at all.”
Before I had a chance to respond or to scream for help, he lunged forward. The man slammed his shoulder into my chest, sending me tumbling backward and into the couch. I hit it hard, pain rushing through me as I landed.
The world blurred around me, and I opened my mouth to try and scream. Nothing came out, the fall having knocked the wind out of me. Helplessly, I watched as the man came into my condo and shut the door, locking it tight. All the places in the building were soundproof, which meant that I could scream and scream and no one would be able to hear me.
“Now,” he said. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to stay here with you until Alex gets back.” He looked around, nodding his head approvingly. “This is a pretty nice pad, actually. Easy to get good and comfy in here. Anyway, when Alex shows up, he and I can talk over our business together.”
“What kind of business?” I asked.
He smirked, the smile spreading across his fleshy face. “The kind of business that’s none of yours.”
After he spoke, his face went strangely blank. His eyes latched onto my body. I was dressed in nothing but a pair of athletic shorts and a T-shirt with no bra, the kind of outfit I wore when I wasn’t expecting company.
The way he looked at me made me sick and angry all at once.
“What the hell are you staring at, asshole?”